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Old April 12th, 2013, 01:13 AM   #522 (permalink)
Speed Daemon
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Originally Posted by mikedt View Post
That's like a modern day equivalent of the old Soviet thing, where the secret police would keep a register of all the typewriters and their owners. So any dissident and/or illegal typed documents could be traced back to the typewriter's owner.
That's one extreme!

IIRC the FBI and other large law enforcement agencies kept large inventories of every typewriter that they could get their hands on, and compared samples to quickly (at least for back then) determine the make and model of a typewriter. Allegedly because no two typewriters were exactly alike, they had experts who could match a typed page to one specific typewriter, and have it stand up in court. That's why you'd see ransom notes and such made with letters cut from newspapers.

It would be interesting to know if this is implemented at the proprietary driver level or it's done within the printer itself. If it's the former, using open source Linux drivers there wouldn't be any tracking dots.
IIRC it was built into the printer's ROM, and tied to its serial number. I think one of the articles mentioned dates and other data being included though. That would probably come from the driver.

My color printer isn't on the EFF list, and I use the generic Ghostscript drivers instead of the proprietary HP ones. I guess I'm in good shape.
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