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Your color printer has secret code that lets the government track you

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#1 NickAu


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Posted 25 October 2015 - 08:12 PM


On the face of it, the U.S. Secret Service has stated that the tracking information is part of a deal struck with selected color laser printer manufacturers, ostensibly to identify counterfeiters. But in reality, the nature of the private information encoded in each document was not previously known.

“We’ve found that the dots from at least one line of printers encode the date and time your document was printed, as well as the serial number of the printer,” said EFF Staff Technologist Seth David Schoen.

Almost all major printer manufacturers like Xerox, Canon, Brother, HP, Dell, Lexmark etc. carry this secret code. You can find the list of printer manufacturers and the printer models which have these code here. EFF researchers say that users can see the dots on color prints from machines made by Xerox, Canon, etc. The dots are yellow, less than one millimeter in diameter, and are typically repeated over each page of a document. In order to see the pattern, you need a blue light, a magnifying glass, or a microscope. The researchers have given the instructions here on how to connect the dots.

EFF and its partners began its project to break the printer code with the Xerox DocuColor line. Researchers Schoen, EFF intern Robert Lee, and volunteers Patrick Murphy and Joel Alwen compared dots from test pages sent in by EFF supporters, noting similarities and differences in their arrangement, and then found a simple way to read the pattern.

Your color printer has secret code that lets the government track you


Hasn’t this been like a open secret for a few years now?

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#2 irvin_than_allyl


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Posted 26 October 2015 - 01:17 AM

I think it probably has been. But what's really crazy to think about is how much stuff like this exists that we don't know about. If Americans knew about every thing the government did to monitor, track, and document them, there would probably be mass civil unrest.


Which would of course, be violently suppressed with the partnership of corporate America, like what happened with the Occupy Wall Street movement.



#3 Animal


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Posted 26 October 2015 - 03:32 PM

The reason for it, if you notice, is that it's for the use of secret service. The secret service is the investigative arm of the treasury department. Which investigates counterfeiting. Note that it's color printers that have the code.... Yes any benign helpful tool can be misused by those with unlimited power. But the intent was to give a tool to the investigative arm of the treasury department. To combat counterfeiting of the most counterfeited currency in the world.

The United States Secret Service is one of the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the country and ranks among the most elite in the world. With its origin dating back to the end of the American Civil War, the Secret Service was originally founded to combat the then-widespread counterfeiting of U.S. currency. In 1901, the agency was asked to begin its protective mission after the assassination of President William McKinley – the third sitting U.S. President to be assassinated. Today, the Secret Service proudly continues to protect both national leaders and visiting foreign dignitaries while helping to secure the nation’s financial infrastructure through financial and cybercrime investigations.

Above quote from: http://www.secretservice.gov/about/history/events/

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#4 rp88


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Posted 29 October 2015 - 08:55 PM

I had definitely heard of the possiblity of this before, I don't know whether I ever heard of definiteive proof of it previously. Ofcourse when it comes to it your fingerprints on a document can be used to track you so expecting a printed piece of paper to be anonymous has always had flaws, but this new discovery (or rather proof of something long proposed as possible but unconfimred) is definitely concerning.
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