Monday, October 17, 2005

What your printer is telling the world about you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a short but extremely disturbing release in which they describe the secret watermarks your color laser printer could be placing on all your printed pages. Apparently the Secret Service has negotiated the inclusion of secret watermarks (in the form of patterns on yellow dots) on printers from a variety of manufacturers. This page contains a more technical explanation of how to see these little yellow dots and what they mean. There's also an interactive form you can use to submit your own dot pattern for decoding.

I've said that I find this very disturbing, and here's why: the government has neither the right nor the legitimate need to track arbitrary documents printed by its citizens. Frankly, this is the sort of thing I expect to hear about China, not the US.

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