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  • Wednesday, October 19, 2005


    Ever-Shrinking Privacy

    Three items about ways of fingering you.

    First, the secret code printed on every page emerging from a color laser copier.
    It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.

    Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer privacy group, said it had cracked the code used in a widely used line of Xerox printers, an invisible bar code of sorts that contains the serial number of the printer as well as the date and time a document was printed.

    With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

    The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from nearly every major printer manufacturer, including Hewlett-Packard Co., though its team has so far cracked the codes for only one type of Xerox printer.

    This CNet article has some good links.

    Then there is the growing use of video cameras in urban environments to "discourage crime." Of course, studies show that the cameras only provide a 2% decrease in crime; better street lights provide a 20% decrease. Hmmm. The Surveillance Camera Players keep track of some these cameras.

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