Seeing Yellow, or Seeing Secret Service?

How many of you know about those yellow tracking dots that are printed by most color laser printers? They are apparently put there by request of the Secret Service in order to track counterfeiters. However, they contain personally identifiable information on every color printout. Here’s a scanned printout from an HP Color LaserJet. No, it’s not photoshopped, and no, we weren’t trying to print yellow dandruff.

An example of tracking dots from an HP color laserjet, scanned into a 600DPI scanner.

In this case, HP’s code for the dots has not been decoded, but EFF has decoded the Xerox code. We are recommending that if you own one of these printers, you call up your printer manufacturer and ask them how to turn it off, or at least express concern for this massive violation of privacy!

But be careful though… one person reported that after calling his printer manufacturer about the dots, he was paid a visit by the Secret Service! Big Brother is watching, but this time Big Brother can print 3000dpi crisp color printouts at 22 pages per minute, too!


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