Printer technology has seen several landmarks from the time the dot matrix printers were used until today when laser printers have become a common place. Nowadays laser printers are available from all printer manufacturers, such as Dell, and they are widely used either at home or in workplaces. Thus it comes as no surprise that printers have become a necessity. From printing coupons to making a folder of important documents, a printer seems to be your best friend. But all is not as perfect as it seems. Did you know that a printed document could help to track you? Most laser printer manufacturers these days are encoding their manufacturing details and serial codes on every document that gets printed from their machines.
So how are these details printed and are they able to elude the naked eye? If you shine an LED on your printed document you will be able to identify a pattern of yellow dots. These dots carry the model code and serial code of your laser printer. These millimeter-sized dots occupy the margin areas or are hidden behind the printed words, thus occupying only one-thousandth of the page space. The white yellow color scheme makes their detection impossible to a naked eye. You need to use a blue LED and a magnifier to spot these tiny dots. So what led to the conception of this idea?
Xerox pioneered this technology around two decades ago. They could sense the growing fears of counterfeited bills that could be produced with ease using laser printers and copiers. Xerox was supported in this cause by other known printing companies who slowly adopted this practice. The practice of including these yellow dots in your printed documents has become very common. Whenever the police or secret service is informed of illegal documents or counterfeit money flowing into the market, they are able to utilize this technology to nab the culprit.
What is the next step once the model number and serial code are identified? Whenever a laser printer is sold, the customer database is updated. The serial number of the printer with the relevant customer details is entered. If there is an illegal document, then the Secret Service contacts the manufacturer who looks up the serial number and hence gets the corresponding customer detail. The manufacturers job is over once these details are handed over. This entire process has been used successfully in the United States and Netherlands.
The customer is unaware of this facility on their laser printer, as it is not listed in any user manual. You cannot break this encoding scheme. The manufacturers of the encoding scheme have placed a chip right inside your printer. If you are attempting or planning to fiddle with it, then you may not see your printer ever working again. In other words, there is no way to disable the feature and hence the chances of catching a mal-practitioner only improve.
There is a debate going on whether this technology is getting misused or not. The law enforcement agency wants us to believe that they are using this technology to grab counterfeiters. But in no way can we be sure if our printed personal and confidential information is not being spied upon. Anonymous printed discussions and pamphlets may not remain anonymous anymore. With all this information in hand you must make an educated decision before purchasing a laser printer. You never know what printed material you have can be used against you.
Author Bio:- Annie Zhang showed great interest in computers even during middle school, and she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Learning how to use new gadgets, software, printers and apps, and sharing her newfound knowledge are the things she enjoys most in life.