Advocates crack printer identifier code

October 19, 2005

A privacy group says it cracked the code used by color printers to leave an identifying watermark on documents that can be traced by the U.S. government.

Cyber sleuths at San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation announced this week that the virtually invisible lines of tiny yellow dots laid down on a page identify not only the individual printer but the date and time the document was printed.

The tracking system was devised to allow the Secret Service to track down currency counterfeiters; however, the foundation warned that the technology could be used as well to identify users who print flyers or other documents critical of the government.

"Even worse," said EFF Attorney Lee Tien, "it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy. The logical next question is: what other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?"

The foundation said it had only unraveled the code on the Xerox DocuColor printer but knows it exists on machines from other manufacturers.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers develop stretchable, touch-sensitive electronics

Related Stories

Researchers develop stretchable, touch-sensitive electronics

February 20, 2018

Of the many ways that humans make sense of our world – with our eyes, ears, nose and mouth – none is perhaps less appreciated than our tactile and versatile hands. Thanks to our sensitive fingertips, we can feel the heat ...

Microwaves against cold-start emissions

December 5, 2017

During cold start, a car engine emits far more particulate matter and other pollutants than during warm conditions. This is because a cold catalytic converter is much less efficient at low exhaust gas temperatures. So what's ...

Recommended for you

Walking crystals may lead to new field of crystal robotics

February 23, 2018

Researchers have demonstrated that tiny micrometer-sized crystals—just barely visible to the human eye—can "walk" inchworm-style across the slide of a microscope. Other crystals are capable of different modes of locomotion ...

Researchers turn light upside down

February 23, 2018

Researchers from CIC nanoGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain) and collaborators have reported in Science the development of a so-called hyperbolic metasurface on which light propagates with completely reshaped wafefronts. This scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.