Is your printer spying on you?
Tech tracking spooks EFF
Secret codes enbedded into pages printed by some colour laser printers pose a risk to personal privacy, according to the Electronic Frontier Fundation. The US privacy group warns the approach - ostensibly only designed to identify counterfeiters - has become a tool for government surveillance, unchecked by laws to prevent abuse.
"In the current political climate, it's not hard to imagine the government using the ability to determine who may have printed what document for purposes other than identifying counterfeiters," the EFF said. The ACLU recently issued a report revealing that the FBI has amassed more than 1,100 pages of documents on the organization since 2001, as well as documents concerning other non-violent groups, including Greenpeace and United for Peace and Justice.
All this sounds like the stuff of black helicopter conspiracy theory but the EFF wants to flesh out its preliminary research by gathering information about what printers are revealing and how. It's asking consumers to get involved by sending in test sheets from colour laser printers. In addition to documenting what printers are revealing, the EFF is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request over the issue. These research efforts are a necessary precursor to any legal challenge from the EFF and ammunition for possible lobbying on legislation to protect consumer privacy. ®
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