Here’s something I didn’t know before now, but it explains a lot: Apparently all color laser devices—printers, copiers, etc.—sold since 1995 have been encoding their serial number into every printout made from them so counterfeit documents can be traced by the government back to the source.
Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company’s laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the “serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots” in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.
“It’s a trail back to you, like a license plate,” Crean says.
The dots’ minuscule size, covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their color combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says. One way to determine if your color laser is applying this tracking process is to shine a blue LED light—say, from a keychain laser flashlight—on your page and use a magnifier.
There have been a number of money and check frauds over the past several years which the Secret Service seemed to be able to crack wide open with amazing ease and speed and now we know why. The color laser printers used tattled on the suspects. Needless to say, this gives one pause to wonder how many other devices have similar “features” in them. It’s not even so much that I have a problem with this technology being in place as much as I have a problem with not knowing about it as it is ripe for abuse in the wrong hands. Something to think about the next time you make a print from a color laser printer or copier.
Found via Boing Boing.