Re: [Full-Disclosure] Government Uses Color Laser Printers to Track Documents.

From: Chris Umphress (
Date: 11/24/04

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    To: Feher Tamas <>, Full-disclosure <>
    Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2004 17:09:38 -0800

    > Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer,
    > shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely
    > with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small,
    > scattered yellow dots printed there that could be used to
    > trace the document back to you.

    So they're using my yellow toner and expecting me to be happy about
    it? Is it tax deductable? ;)

    > Lorelei Pagano, a counterfeiting specialist with the U.S.
    > Secret Service, stresses that the government uses the
    > embedded serial numbers only when alerted to a forgery. "The
    > only time any information is gained from these documents is
    > purely in [the case of] a criminal act," she says.

    This is like the semi-recent OnStar issue, right?

    > John Morris, a lawyer for The Center for Democracy and
    > Technology , says, "That type of assurance doesn't really
    > assure me at all, unless there's some type of statute." He
    > adds, "At a bare minimum, there needs to be a notice to
    > consumers."

    Absolutely. A "you're being tracked, have a good day" would be nice.

    > Crean describes the device as a chip located "way in the
    > machine, right near the laser" that embeds the dots when the
    > document "is about 20 billionths of a second" from printing.
    > "Standard mischief won't get you around it," Crean adds.

    I have to wonder how long it will take modding sites to pick this up.
    > Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser
    > printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track
    > documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace
    > among major printer companies.

    This sounds a lot like "But everyone does it!" That never worked for me.

    > Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and
    > copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses
    > to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range
    > from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed
    > for both home and office.

    Black-only laser printers are down as low as $100. Color is still
    $500+, just clearifying.

    > Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years
    > ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily
    > be used to counterfeit bills.

    It can be done with inkjet printers now.

    Anyhow, my $0.02. I probably won't be buying a new (or old) color
    laser printer in the near future.


    Chris Umphress <>
    Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.

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