Friday Fact: Printers Could Rat You Out

The government could use things printed from your printer to find you.

According to Wikipedia, printer steganography is the act of hiding data within data on any piece of paper printed from a colored printer.

How it works is tiny yellow dots are added to each page. These dots are hardly visible, so a normal human eye can’t see them. Through binary coding, these dots contain printed serial numbers and timestamps. Someone must examine a printout closely to see them as they can’t be seen on a normal computer file. But if someone who knows what to look for examines it closely, they can determine the serial number and the time of printing which could be used to find the printer’s owner.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said that a document they received from the Freedom of Information Act in 2005 suggested that major color printer manufacturers have entered a secret agreement with the government to ensure that printouts are forensically traceable. So, it might be safe to assume your printer has tracking information in it, too.

Print wisely.

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