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FOIA Request Shows Which Printer Companies Cooperated With US Government 355

Posted by timothy
from the stick-with-handwriting dept.
New submitter Dave_Minsky writes "The U.S. Secret Service responded to a FOIA request on Monday that reveals the names of the printer companies that cooperate with the government to identify and track potential counterfeiters. The Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed in 2005 that the U.S. Secret Service was in cahoots with selected laser printer companies to identify and track printer paper using tiny microscopic dots encoded into the paper. The tiny, yellow dots — less than a millimeter each — are printed in a pattern over each page and are only viewable with a blue light, a magnifying glass or a microscope. The pattern of dots is encodes identifiable information including printer model, and time and location where the document was printed." Easy enough to avoid government dots; just don't buy printers from Canon, Brother, Casio, HP, Konica, Minolta, Mita, Ricoh, Sharp, or Xerox.
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FOIA Request Shows Which Printer Companies Cooperated With US Government

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  • lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:11AM (#39084813)

    Who would want to counterfeit american money? If you're gonna stick your neck out at least counterfeit something of value

  • What's the problem? (Score:5, Informative)

    by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gmai l . com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:14AM (#39084821) Homepage Journal

    Firstly, what's the big deal with the document having these microdots? They identify the machine by serial number, and the time (assuming the machine's clock is set correctly - in my experience, many aren't). The "location" isn't really identified since these devices have no way of knowing their location, so what's being described here isn't actually possible.

    If you're going to be printing stuff you don't want identified, don't use one of these machines, sure. But for day to day normal printing, it's not exactly going to affect you.

    I'm aware this argument sounds a lot like "if you've got nothing to hide, you don't need security" or whatever, but really it's not. If you DO want to hide that the job was printed on your device, change the serial number (on most devices, this just requires knowing how to get to the "Service Mode" of the machine - which, while no company will tell you how, is trivially easy to find on Google).

    It's not like we actively keep it a secret that our machines do this.

    And just as a minor nitpick: "Konica" and "Minolta" haven't been two separate companies in a long time. (Full disclosure: I work for Konica Minolta)

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:21AM (#39084841) Homepage Journal

      The problem is government cooperation, this automatically raises a flag - this company will not have a problem cooperating with the government.

      So, what do these companies have to hide? What are they getting from government that they agreed to do this?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:25AM (#39085535)

        The problem is government cooperation, this automatically raises a flag - this company will not have a problem cooperating with the government.

        You make it sound like they had a choice.

        "Nice company you got here. Be a shame if we had to audit your records for the past twenty years. You're not on the terrorists' side, are you?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you've got nothing to hide, but then suddenly stop being trackable, that implies that now you do now have something to hide.

      Why not guilty until proven innocent, instead? Oh wait, that ended when Reagan instituted drug testing.

      • Why not guilty until proven innocent, instead?

        Indeed, it's unfair to try an innocent man! - Apologies to Q from Star Trek.

    • by bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:24AM (#39084853) Homepage

      The are LOTS of flaws in your agument. Prehaps the easiest to explain is what happens if the is a revolution in your country and previous 'free-expression' suddenly lands you in jail?

       

      • by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gmai l . com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:31AM (#39084887) Homepage Journal

        The are LOTS of flaws in your agument. Prehaps the easiest to explain is what happens if the is a revolution in your country and previous 'free-expression' suddenly lands you in jail?

        Let's imagine I have a home printer that prints these microdots. I use it for printing birthday cards, kids' homework, letters to my bank, and other miscellany. If there's a revolution and any of these things become illegal, I've got bigger problems than being tracked by my printer.

        As a further note, right now there's no way to trace that serial number to me. Generally speaking, tracing a serial number will get it to the store that sold it to me and not much further. For larger office devices (the stuff I work with in my day job) there's no way a home user would have it, but we could track it to the end user (customer) in theory. That however would only give us the company, not the individual user (unless that company themselves had a tracking system for their users, and then how is that OUR fault?)

        Yeh, I'd prefer it if these microdots didn't exist, but I've yet to see a convincing argument of their actual danger.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:49AM (#39084981)

          Oh? Did you buy that printer with a credit card? Video surveilence at time of purchase could be useful if not....

          There are plenty of methods of tracking a purchased item to a person. The convincing argument for me is this - The reason given for doing this was to stop counterfits. However printing quality out of those printers is no where near enough to fool idiots down the street. What other reason is there then, other that to track the local people?

        • by Megane (129182) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:51AM (#39084991) Homepage

          As a further note, right now there's no way to trace that serial number to me.

          They can identify that two pages both came from the same printer. Which includes sneaking into your house when you're not around and printing a test page. Or not sneaking in, if they already suspect you enough.

          • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:01AM (#39085039)

            They could do that anyway, every laser and inkjet printer has a unique signature in the way it prints, with the spacing of dots, dirt and unintended marks left on the paper - it's an inherent part of the character of each printer, but needs skill and time to interpret.

            I recall watching a UK police documentary about fraud over a decade ago, where they IDed the exact printer some fraudulent documents were printed on, proving their suspect was linked to the case. The evidence stood up in court too.

          • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:02AM (#39085765) Homepage

            As a further note, right now there's no way to trace that serial number to me.

            They can identify that two pages both came from the same printer. Which includes sneaking into your house when you're not around and printing a test page. Or not sneaking in, if they already suspect you enough.

            Paranoid much? Seriously, they've been doing that with handwriting and typewriters since, roughly forever. Then there's any fingerprints or DNA you might leave on the paper to consider too. And your license plate number when they surveil the parking lot of the post office where the documents were mailed from. And checking your hard drive for the digital files, and your trash for draft copies, and your email for related writings, and your bookcase/ereader for related reading. Doing textual analysis on emails and other postings on the internet... Etc... etc...
             
            Consider that the Unabomber was caught because his brother recognized his writing style. The Lindbergh kidnapper by comparing handwriting. Albert Fish because he used a unique paper... (Huh, Wikipedia to the rescue again - they have an entire article [wikipedia.org] on this, found while researching cases.)
             
            Seriously, acting like this represents some unique threat or certain nail in your coffin where there is no other is simply ludicrous.

        • by Requiem18th (742389) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:32AM (#39085217)

          The argument of their actual danger has ben explained to you already but I'll try again. The problems are availability, plausible deniability and finally, "red flaging" (I don't know the proper term, my apologies).

          It's the same argument for total encryption, if you encrypt only sensitive information you are making it very easy for an attacker to know what to look for. If the only encrypted files in your laptop are your credit card numbers and password stores, Again if the only email you encrypt is the most highly sensitive ones, and industrial spy who gains access to your email knows exactly where to look for trade secrets.

          This means that if you ever have a good reason to print something you don't want traced back to you, you'll have to get access to an special printer. Cracking down on religious or political dissidents, whistleblowers and "unconfortable" citizens becomes a matter of tracking down who has access to these special printers. That's the red flag.

          Sooner than later just having such a printer becomes proof of any crime, such as encrypting your harddrive and refusing to hand over the key is considered evidence of the crime by some authorities. If you want to have access to these printers when you need them you need to use them when you don't need them. That's your plausible deniability.

          And if they simply become ilegal, there is no availability.

          Let's drop the topic of revolutions and use a theme closer to home, whisthleblowing. So you are a lowly clerk in an oil company and happend uppon records proving corruption involving high profile politicians. So you take the files in a USB, print them at home and send them anonymously to an activist group.

          If your mail get's intercepted, you are fucked. If your employer's lawyers get them, you are fucked. If the police happens to "lose" them. You are fucked. Because thanks to cooperation between corporations and the state it's easy to trace you. The yellow dots link your copy to your printer, to the store and to your credit card number. And for all we know there is already a database out there that just links yellow dots to names and it only takes a few calls to know who leaked the incriminating data.

          And once they know you may as well move yourself to perpetual-unemployment-ville.

          • by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gmai l . com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:12AM (#39085463) Homepage Journal

            And for all we know there is already a database out there that just links yellow dots to names and it only takes a few calls to know who leaked the incriminating data.

            If there was, the following conversation would not have taken place:

            • My phone rings...
            • Me: Hello, Yttrium Oxide* speaking (not my real name)
            • Person: Hi, this is Joe Bloggs* from Government Security Agency* (not real name or agency)
            • Person: Are you the person to talk to about determining who a device was sent to by its microdot pattern?
            • Me: Hmmm, sorry, not my area. You seem to have been transferred to the wrong department. I'll transfer you to the right person.

            That's only happened once, around 6 or 7 years ago. Same current employer, different country. It may be that such a database exists in the US for example, but I've never worked there so couldn't say. It definitely doesn't exist in Australia where I used to work otherwise they wouldn't have called asking that question.

          • "So you take the files in a USB, print them at home and send them anonymously to an activist group."

            Why? Just for the glory of watching the paper spew? Send a copy of the USB.
          • Actually, this can lead to more security for wistleblowers, if they have some knowledge. Since this is now so easy, it is hard for any government to justify having a large questioned documents section. (They are expensive after all) So all you have to do, is change your dots, print the super secret stuff, and then change them back. Then if they compare pages, and get non-matching numbers, they check no further.
          • by Rick17JJ (744063)

            A whistle-blower or political dissident could purchase an inexpensive printer in cash, without using their shoppers discount card. Then they could print the files from the USB device and then quickly dispose of the inexpensive printer.

            Not wanting to risk loosing their job, or getting sued or harassed by their corrupt employer, they could even go so far as to purchase the printer in cash from a store in a different city. That way, records would show that the printer had been sold to someone in cash, in some

        • by Dysproxia (584031)

          As a further note, right now there's no way to trace that serial number to me.

          Unless you count the printer driver, driver installer or the network connected printer itself calling home for warranty related reasons, reporting at the very least the serial number and your IP address, and whatever other personal information you probably gave it willingly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          When you install the printer it phones home and gives them IP and serial. Now they DO know who you are. Now let's say you work for the government but want to protest something they are doing- so you print out posters and secretly staple them to telephone poles. And lose your job.
      • If such a revolution were to happen, I highly doubt the perpetrators are going to wait to build a body of evidence against you before they stick you in the deepest dungeon they can find.

        It didn't take much for the "victors" in the Libyan conflict to start emptying towns of opposition tribes members after all... just some UN air and logistics support.

        • by jamstar7 (694492)

          If such a revolution were to happen, I highly doubt the perpetrators are going to wait to build a body of evidence against you before they stick you in the deepest dungeon they can find.

          Only if you're high profile enough that a show trial would be worth the new People's Committee's time. The 'running dog lackeys' would probably just be stood against the wall and shot out of hand. Quicker, cheaper, and you don't have to assign guards to them. Plus, if you corral some locals to witness it, word of mouth tr

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        The are LOTS of flaws in your agument. Prehaps the easiest to explain is what happens if the is a revolution in your country and previous 'free-expression' suddenly lands you in jail?

        Then you have bigger problems that won't be solved with an anonymous printer..

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:27AM (#39084867)

      Problem 1: It was *not* pointed out to the customers that this was happening, it was only revealed by the EFF and then not denied. It would've been ridiculous to deny it.
      Problem 2: Still if I buy such a printer it is neither stated on the packaging nor in the manuel that the printer prints this information. This is not what I would call a transparent process.
      Problem 3: If I send a job to a printer I expect the printer to print my job, not anything else!
      Problem 4: Printing these dots consumes my ink.
      Problem 5: There is no possibility to turn this "feature" off. Why? Who is your customer?

      Next thing you tell us that this is a feature to improve customer satisfaction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mabhatter (126906)

        This was published years ago. Probably on Slasdot. Add to that the "yellow circles" patterns that are in various currencies (like the pattern of "20s" on a $20 bill) and they have been working with copier/scanner/software makers to flag those items as non-copy able as well. ... This was years ago...

        This has been a problem for years... I remember 15 years ah at my first real job, somebody was caught putting copied $1 bills into the vending machines. They had to do something eventually.

        If you need to print ob

        • There's a significant difference, I think, between taking measures to prevent an act of crime as it occurs and taking actions that also affect legitimate uses.

          The fear (perhaps unjustified) is that in theory these dots could identify a person printing things that are not illegal in of themselves but are still inconvenient/undesirable to the authorities.

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            So don't use printers. Or mobile phones. Or land phones. Or pen and paper. Or credit cards. Or cash (those things hold fingerprints and have *omg* serial numbers).

        • i think one of the major issues is that they can tell two separate pages came from the same printer. it isn't necessarily important that they ever have to actually find the particular printer if they find other, possibly non-objectionable content, on your person from that same printer.

      • by drussell (132373) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:29AM (#39085907)

        Problem 4: Printing these dots consumes my ink.

        Yes, and it uses a LOT of it! Older HP color lasers would print a B&W page without using the color toner cartridges at all, no wasted toner on a B&W page... Many of the newer ones I've seen always use a color pass for B&W, making color toner cartridges run out quite quickly when printing B&W even though it shouldn't even have to pull color toner onto the drum. And yes, the yellow always runs out first (even though it's only used a little bit more than the base "waste toner" that is used on each pass of a cartridge). (I have a couple LaserJet 2840s and this is VERY obvious; we get about 10% of rated color toner cart life due to high B&W use).

        I'm sure HP loves it, it's another way to sell even more quantity of their overpriced inks and toners. This "feature" costs us about $500/year per printer in extra toner use! (About an extra cyan and magenta each year -- yellow about every 9 mo.)

        I can even see the pattern naked-eye, at least on the 96 bright paper we use... It's always been VERY annoying. Otherwise, fairly nice printers, but they eat supplies and I've known exactly why since day 1.

    • The "location" isn't really identified since these devices have no way of knowing their location, so what's being described here isn't actually possible.

      Right, because nobody sends in those "Product Registration Cards" or does online registration when installing the print drivers.

    • by grub (11606)
      It's trivial to geolocate with IP and most printers are networked these days. Changing the serial doesn't mean the "real" burned in one isn't printed as well.

      Seriously, what benefit is there to the consumer for this behaviour? None. Stop being an apologist for your employer.
      • by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gmai l . com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:38AM (#39084927) Homepage Journal

        It's trivial to geolocate with IP and most printers are networked these days.

        True, but most aren't given public IP addresses (any many aren't even given access out the firewall to try and figure out the public address)

        Changing the serial doesn't mean the "real" burned in one isn't printed as well.

        Note the bit where I said I work for Konica Minolta... I know what I'm talking about here. The serial number written in the microdots is ABSOLUTELY the one that is programmed in electronically by the service-person and NOT some kind of hard-coded value.

        Seriously, what benefit is there to the consumer for this behaviour? None.

        You'll get no argument from me there. I never said I was in favour of these microdots, just that they're REALLY ineffective and therefore you can generally happily ignore the attempted invasion of privacy and it's no big deal.

        Stop being an apologist for your employer.

        My employer (right up to senior management at our parent company) knows when I agree with them and when I disagree. I'm secure enough in my position there that I know I don't need to kiss arse to keep my job.

        • I just take issue with your claim that the printer has no time or location data. The printer is constantly connected to things that have time and location data.
          • I just take issue with your claim that the printer has no time or location data. The printer is constantly connected to things that have time and location data.

            True, but the devices are simply not that smart to make use of it. Trust me, the firmware developers in the printer industry aren't exactly the best and brightest in the software development world. They use the time as determined by the machine. They use the serial number that is programmed in to them. There is no location data of any use (specifically, I can tell you that the "location" variable on Konica Minolta devices in Europe is "Europe" - hardly an accurate location statement)

            Note that when I tal

        • True, but most aren't given public IP addresses (any many aren't even given access out the firewall to try and figure out the public address)

          You're assuming the network admins are both competent and actually care. Neither of which are usually true. Everywhere where I've seen a networked printer it has always had fully public IP address and accessible from the Internet. The admins just don't bother to do anything about it.

          You'll get no argument from me there. I never said I was in favour of these microdots, just that they're REALLY ineffective and therefore you can generally happily ignore the attempted invasion of privacy and it's no big deal.

          I see where you're coming from, but I personally see even the attempt at such as a rather disgusting move. But as I said, that's just how I feel about it, I don't expect everyone to feel the same way.

          My employer (right up to senior management at our parent company) knows when I agree with them and when I disagree. I'm secure enough in my position there that I know I don't need to kiss arse to keep my job.

          Good for you tbh :) I myself

        • but changing the serial isn't enough, unless you do it after every print job. the problem with the serial is they can tell multiple sheets of paper came from the same printer. if you make a mistake and print out objectionable content, and then forget to change the serial and print out some non-objectionable material and are carrying that piece of paper around, they can then track you back to the objectionable content which has the same serial. even if that is not the same serial that originally shipped w

      • by msauve (701917)
        "It's trivial to geolocate with IP"

        Really? My printer has IP address 192.168.1.201. Where is it located?
    • by chichilalescu (1647065) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:46AM (#39084967) Homepage Journal

      you know, my aunt had a typing machine. in Romania, before the fall of communism. and everybody remembers that, in those days, you had to give the "fingerprint" of any typing machine to the authorities.
      as you might know, there are these tiny problems with each letter, and they can be traced back to the machine. so, in practice, the authorities could find out if a paper had been typed by your machine or not.
      in my experience, if you want a warranty for your printer, the store will need the serial number of your device. and if you pay with a credit card, they can link your contact information to the device. and if you try to google the way to change the serial number, you probably end up an watchlist of some sort.
      personally, I don't know if it's a good situation when it's impossible to be anonymous. but I am certain they should tell you about it when it does happen.
      your argument is that it doesn't affect normal users, and that you don't actively keep it a secret. well, you do keep it a secret, because a FOIA request had to be made to find it out. and it doesn't matter if it affects normal users or not, as long as they don't know.

      • by gaspyy (514539) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:49AM (#39085331)

        Yes, parent is correct. We were required by law to register any typewriter with the police. Failure to comply was a major offense, with prison time and if you were flagged as threat to the system you could end up in a forced labor camp (e.g. the infamous "Danube-Black Sea Canal"). Nasty memories and it's incredible how people don't learn from history.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Because as we are seeing now with Syria or even here in the USA with PATRIOT and NDAA it really isn't a stretch for a government to become hostile to its own people. The ability to build grass roots support is one of the ways one can actually use the power of the people against the government but if they can simply track down the ones that are uppity and make them just go "poof"? lot harder to ever cause any change.
    • by DaveGod (703167)

      Firstly, what's the big deal with the document having these microdots?

      If they're not significant then why are they there? Either they are of use to law enforcement and therefore of concern to citizens, or they aren't useful and they're a waste of our tax dollars.

      Sure it's possible the dots are useful to law enforcement for reasons that do not affect privacy, but the onus is on them to explain and demonstrate that.

    • by errandum (2014454)

      Most recent prints have wireless connectivity. From there to a coarse location is not a stretch (and since some actually contact an outside server, they can even trace the IP back to you).

      Also, documents sometimes have that information themselves, and the printer can use that information to identify the creator.

      Not saying they do, just that if they want to know where you are, they can. Printers with modified firmware have even been used as points of entry by the government before, so it's not that far fetch

    • by Cwix (1671282)

      Do me a favor.

      Go down to the guys in the driver dept, and hand out a few swift kicks to the balls.

      • by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gmai l . com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:20AM (#39085509) Homepage Journal

        Do me a favor.

        Go down to the guys in the driver dept, and hand out a few swift kicks to the balls.

        Oh, I would SO love to... Sadly, the main driver devs are sitting in Japan and our guys here in Europe only do customisations and localisation - they don't deserve the kick.

        On the plus side, if you're located in Europe and have a company (even just a one-person company) with a non-"freemail" email address, sign up (for free, but with NDA agreement) to our Developer Support Portal [konicaminolta.eu] and you can get all our PDL (PJL, PCL, PS) specs to make your own driver. Wait a few months and there may be some even cooler stuff there for doing your own drivers much more easily (sorry, can't confirm that definitely right now).

        Any questions, post on the forums there and I'll answer as best I can! (or pay for a developer support contract and get guaranteed full technical answers to questions as well as a lot more cool resources)

        • by tibit (1762298)

          Who are the fucktards who came up with an idea that this should be under an NDA?! What THE FUCK has changed that this stuff cannot be included in at least the electronic version of the printer manual? It used to be that printers came with manuals that had the full command language laid out in the back. Of course todays' printers are more complex; it'd be probably a waste of paper and money to include it in whatever physical documentation that's coming with the printer. Alas, there's nothing at all barring y

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:15AM (#39084827) Homepage

    Great to know my printer maker isn't on the list.

  • by dragisha (788) <dragisha&m3w,org> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:42AM (#39084953)

    1) To find child pornographers
    2) To find money counterfeiters ....

    So, every 1,000,000th computer user is 1), and probably every 10,000,000th is 2).. Or something like. Nothing bad, I would propose much stricter sentencing for 1), and let authorities eat 2) for breakfast, and so on... But... 1) and 2) are probably verrry aware of methods used so only guaranteed effect is: surveillance and control of rest of us.

    We (the rest) are just collateral damage - freedom here and freedom there is lost...

    Nothing new here... :)

    As for printer companies - Every single one not on this list is just temporarily off it. Why would they decline request like that from government? At least for printer sold in some country, it's only normal to expect its government to impose such request onto company willing to sell it's wares. While this situation is very similar to old reasoning for cryptography for our emails, I really don't see why it would be a problem to me if papers I produce are traceable by government? A lot of my writing is already in circulation so they also have many other ways to match my papers to me :).

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:47AM (#39084971) Homepage

    it was just a "voluntary" request for cooperation.

    (That means they had good old Joe Lieberman call up the company and "ask" them to print teh dots.)

    • by sco08y (615665)

      it was just a "voluntary" request for cooperation.

      (That means they had good old Joe Lieberman call up the company and "ask" them to print teh dots.)

      If Slow Joe had made the call, there would be dots, then some stripes, a nice bit of plaid here and there, and probably the wallpaper pattern from his Aunt Lizzie's place in the 70s. Boy, let me tell you about Aunt Lizzie, she made the best apple pie...

  • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:58AM (#39085025)
    Are printers coming with Magical GPS systems now?
    Cause last I checked, GPS doesnt work indoors, and a GPS system costs more than the price of an entry level printer
    And, without GPS, how do they plan to get your location?
    Also, where does the printer get an accurate time reading from, and how do you link a serial number to a person unless they take the printer in for servicing, or purchased it using their own credit card
  • Because I've been wondering for a while why the yellow ink was always disappearing faster than the other colors on our printers, I wonder if this accounts for some of the loss?

  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rydia (556444) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:03AM (#39085053)

    Really? This is cause for outrage? The insane idea that the government might look at something you wrote and hunt you down using a printer serial number and some possible registration information? This isn't a "the innocent have nothing to hide" argument, this is a "any government agency that actually used this for anything other than the stated purpose is insane" argument. There are hundreds of far more efficient, reliable and accurate ways to figure out who you are and what you have been up to.

    Reading through the comments, about how your printer is going to betray you when the fascist power grab comes, it is abundantly clear that a sizable portion of slashdotters enjoy nothing more than working themselves up by finding whatever scant excuse to go on hyperbolic rants about how the government is just waiting to come and take them away to gitmo, and that the only way to avoid this is to compete to see who is the most paranoid.

    The sad thing is when the government DOES overstep its bounds and quash our freedoms, these people will have negative credibility because everyone else know that, to them, everything is a sinister government plot.

  • by kccricket (217833) <kccricket@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:09AM (#39085089) Homepage

    I've worked rather extensively with a Xerox DocuColor 252 over the last four years. Those yellow dots are anything but microscopic. I could plainly see the dots on most printouts under standard office-style fluorescent lighting. They always bugged the crap out of me.

  • Defective by design (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fibonacci8 (260615) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:15AM (#39085115)
    This probably helps explain why so many customers have brought printers to me complaining of the defect where B&W print jobs do not print when the color cartidge gets low.
  • Note to self. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub (869860) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <muitnias>> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:52AM (#39085347)

    Never buy a used printer.

  • by anwaya (574190) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:07AM (#39085437)
    One of the things a fully developed police state needs to be able to do is control the flow of all information. You need a mechanism that can be used to identify who has been producing physical copies of banned works - say, a play by Vaclav Havel, or a copy of The Master and Margarita - so that you can lock them up.

    What these printer companies have done, by collaborating with the US in this way, is to make it easier for police states to monitor and control the physical flow of information.
  • ... suggest a good utility for printing additional, obfuscating dots?
  • Seems EFF got scared and took down the material on this matter from there website. None of the article links to EFF work.

  • It was alleged that during one of the Gulf Wars, the US had modified printers sold to Iraq with some kind of location device allowing cruise missiles to find their target. I assume this was some kind of radio transmitter that identified what Iraqi government department had purchased the printer. I'm also guessing that the device probably cost a lot more than the printer. It has just recently been noted in the news that in the US pilotless drones will be allowed to fly presumably looking for bad guys. I thin
  • by ClintJCL (264898) <[clintjcl+slashdot] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:05PM (#39086103) Homepage Journal
    so buy your printers used. not a big deal. Preferably, buy them used from your political enemies, so anything bad traces back to *them*.

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