Author Topic: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!  (Read 37762 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« on: November 30, 2015, 08:34:00 pm »
Did you know that your colour laser printer is secretly printing a forensic code on every one of your printouts so the government can track it?
Sounds like a nutjob conspiracy theory, but it's true!
Yellow dots that are invisible to the naked eye are printed all over your page that have the printer serial number and time and date encoded within them.
List of printers that do/don't have this forensic encoding
https://www.eff.org/pages/list-printers-which-do-or-do-not-display-tracking-dots
https://www.eff.org/issues/printers
http://seeingyellow.com/
It may even violate human rights:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/02/eu-printer-tracking-dots-may-violate-human-rights

 

Offline GNU_Ninja

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2015, 08:36:17 pm »
Did you know that your colour laser printer is secretly printing a forensic code on every one of your printouts so the government can track it?

Yes  :)
 

Online PA0PBZ

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2015, 08:47:01 pm »
I thought it was more or less public knowledge. Other interesting things can happen when you try to scan/copy banknotes  :)
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 08:51:00 pm »
Other interesting things can happen when you try to scan/copy banknotes  :)

Photoshop will flag images of banknotes.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2015, 08:52:04 pm »
I thought it was more or less public knowledge.

I'd be willing to bet 99% of the public do not know.
 

Offline Tim F

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2015, 08:54:57 pm »
Hah, I didn't actually know about this until now. Interesting that the homebrew PCB toner transfer gang don't have problems with this? I use a colour laser printer for toner transfers (Lexmark C543dn) and it doesn't produce dots.
 

Offline Muttley Snickers

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2015, 09:13:55 pm »
Up yours Uncle Sam, I only print ransom notes and love letters in black and white.... ;D
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Offline crispy_tofu

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2015, 09:25:30 pm »
Great video!  :-+
Other interesting things can happen when you try to scan/copy banknotes  :)

Photoshop will flag images of banknotes.

Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EURion_constellation
 

Offline continuo

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2015, 09:30:29 pm »
Most of the people who are into computers and electronics here knew that for many years, the general public not so much... And a lot of people here still buy their stuff locally, payed in cash. So if I drive to Computer Müller and buy a Xerox Phaser in his shop, he gets the money, I get the printer and that's it. No names involved. OTOH, it would be a real dumb idea to order the printer on Amazon, pay it with your credit card and use it to print the newest IS pamphlets  :-DD
 

Offline HighVoltage

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2015, 10:00:35 pm »
One reason why I am still using a few of the old but trustworthy HP 4100N Laserprinters.
This knowledge is old, for those in the know.
For Photoshop there is a plugin / patch available, so you can scan banknotes.
 
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2015, 10:03:17 pm »
Pay cash and never register your printer ;)
 

Offline HighVoltage

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2015, 10:06:17 pm »
Pay cash and never register your printer ;)
And buy them in a different city, far away from where you live.
There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who can not.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2015, 10:08:14 pm »
Pay cash and never register your printer ;)
And buy them in a different city, far away from where you live.

And make sure is a tethered printer not wifi or ethernet.
 

Offline max666

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2015, 10:12:02 pm »
I didn't know about this. But I do know about the EURion constellation.
What happens if you print out with a yellow background, does that fool the system?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2015, 10:16:25 pm »
Pay cash and never register your printer ;)

Too bad about those security cameras in the stores, and the date and time of the sale still tracked  8)
 

Offline continuo

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2015, 10:30:39 pm »
What happens if you print out with a yellow background, does that fool the system?

Interesting question. But an entire page, covered in 100% yellow, to trick the system, wouldn't be of much interest to the agencies, I guess  :-//
 

Offline GNU_Ninja

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2015, 10:38:45 pm »
Just use one of these http://www.vintagecomputer.net/teletype101.cfm all the I/O you need in one convenient unit, and no naughty yellow dots  ;D
 

Offline Barny

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2015, 11:06:09 pm »
Pay cash and never register your printer ;)

Too bad about those security cameras in the stores, and the date and time of the sale still tracked  8)
To bad that the serial number is not on the outside of the package.
And if it is, the cameras are not able to show them in an readable solution.
The only thing the cameras show is that you bought a printer.
But not which one of the 10/20 in the shop.
And normally the recordings get deleted after some time.
 

Online PA0PBZ

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2015, 11:17:32 pm »
To bad that the serial number is not on the outside of the package.
It mostly is
Quote
And if it is, the cameras are not able to show them in an readable solution.
The POS system will happily register at what date/time that serial number was sold
Quote
The only thing the cameras show is that you bought a printer.
Including the date and time
Quote
But not which one of the 10/20 in the shop.
No, that was already registered in the POS system.
Quote
And normally the recordings get deleted after some time.
The camera recordings yes, there you have a point.
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Offline eV1Te

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2015, 11:20:58 pm »
Dave, now you are required to teardown a printer and show us where the dots are actually produced.  ;)

Maybe there is an easy way to disable it?  :-/O
 

Online PA0PBZ

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2015, 11:26:01 pm »
Dave, now you are required to teardown a printer and show us where the dots are actually produced.  ;)

About here:

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Offline rolycat

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2015, 11:58:13 pm »
Dave, now you are required to teardown a printer and show us where the dots are actually produced.  ;)

Maybe there is an easy way to disable it?  :-/O

Doesn't seem too likely.

According to Xerox, who developed the first encoding system, the dots are generated by a dedicated chip "way in the machine, right near the laser" that embeds the dots when the document "is about 20 billionths of a second" from printing.


 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2015, 12:23:59 am »
To bad that the serial number is not on the outside of the package.
And if it is, the cameras are not able to show them in an readable solution.
The only thing the cameras show is that you bought a printer.
But not which one of the 10/20 in the shop.
And normally the recordings get deleted after some time.

Your last point is the only one that has validity.
If they do have the recordings then they have something concrete to go on.
Even if no recordings then they could go into phone metadata records to find out who was in/near that store at that time and date.
Paid by cash? Search nearby ATM record data for that and previous days for cash withdrawls.
All they need is a list of names to start narrowing down potential suspects, they don't need proof.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2015, 12:25:18 am »
Maybe there is an easy way to disable it?  :-/O

Greatly doubt it.
It will be deeply integrated into the printer system
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #825 - Your Printer Is Spying On You!
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2015, 12:38:19 am »
They would probably just match the printout to the printer if they found it in posession of a suspect. I doubt there is a massive database of who bought which printer. The same as you see typewriter defects matched with ransom notes in old movies.

Personally I don't see why printing your own grid of dots over the entire sheet  wouldn't fix them up good. Can you get twice the toner in one spot?

If you knew about this and wanted to get around it, you'd simply get a printer that doesn't do this.

Quote
Does this explain why I seem to run out of yellow ink first?

Very Likely.
 


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