usahitman.com This is very old news, but most have never heard of it before. U.S. laser printer manufactures have, in cooperation with the federal government, included special tracking dot systems with their printers, so that every page printed contains hard to see dot patterns encoding the serial number of the printer and the time and date that a given page was printed. 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. The best website up about the tracking dots is over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF has sent in a FOIA request for information on the program. So far, they say, “[the] documents we’ve begun to receive in response to our FOIA requests suggest that the government may have convinced all printer manufacturers to put some kind of tracking mechanism in every color laser printer.” The EFF has discovered the key to the tracking dot code, as shown in the picture here. They reveal the printer serial number and the exact date — down to the minute — of when the document was printed.
Imagine that every time you print a document, it automatically includes a secret code that could be used to identify the printer — and, potentially, the person who used it. Sounds like something from a spy movie, right?Unfortunately, the scenario isn’t fictional. Most color laser printers and color copiers are designed to print invisible tracking codes across every single printed page of their output. These codes reveal which machine produced a document and, in some cases, when the document was printed or copied. Because of their limited contrast with the background, the forensic dots are not usually visible to the naked eye under white light. They can be made visible by magnification (using a magnifying glass or microscope), or by illuminating the page with blue instead of white light. Pure blue light causes the yellow dots to appear black. It can be helpful to use magnification together with illumination under blue light, although most individuals with good vision will be able to see the dots distinctly using either technique by itself.
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