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Dubious printer ‘Yellow Dot’ tracking

While bouncing around the web this morning, I was reminded how glad I am to have the freedom of browsing the web without the restrictions that some companies or countries are all to eager to throttle and control or modify the content you see.

I made my weekly visit to TED.com and browsed the archives and came across this talk by Mikko Hypponen about how printer companies have implemented a system to identify every single document you print. Whether it be to assist authorities or a simple Easter egg. Many printer companies are overlaying a encoded pattern of yellow dots of ink on to your document without your permission, and that pattern is a code. While the code is not universal, you can bet that each printer company has it’s own key to unlock it.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) covered this subject some time ago and has been hard at work ever sense to decode the meaning of the Yellow Dot patterns. They have done quite well in decoding some of the most common patterns. But they have a long way to go. The EFF has also put together their own video showing exactly what is going on and how you can test your own printer. While the ‘tone’ of the video is rather jovial, the message is a perfect example of privacy invasion, I feel.

What are your thoughts…

 
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Comments (1)

  1. peter Wednesday - 23 / 05 / 2012 Reply
    do you use one of these printers??? http://miami.typepad.com/springyleaks/2012/05/foia-release-names-spy-printers.html

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