According to this article the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been aware of and alerting the public to unique printer identification or “printer dots” since about 2004. It goes on to state that the companies who have implemented this have done so of free will and in collusion with the United States government. The EFF has kindly provided a list of printers that have been tested for “anomalous yellow dots” that indicate unique identification. This article explains what the results mean and how they were obtained as to expose their methodology to as much scrutiny as possible. According to this document obtained by the EFF through a Freedom of Information Act request Canon, Brother, Casio, Hewlett-Packard, Konica, Minolta, Mita, Ricoh, Sharp, and Xerox are complicit in these acts.
The implementation of a tracking device, especially without informing the citizen/consumer of its existence, is very troubling because it directly violates the right to anonymous, free speech, a pillar of our cultural identity. A more troubling idea is that not only can the government read and interrupt this data, but so can anybody with the knowledge to do so which includes _AT LEAST_ the a handful of people in each of the above mentioned companies. This also opens the door for a person or persons to forge a paper from another persons printer and use it against them while being much harder to detect or disprove.
Interestingly enough act utilitarianism could plausibly used to justify this, especially since most people are ignorant of this fact, but the more applicable idea of moral rights theory is in a strange stalemate depending on who is asked. Founding father Ben Franklin stated “[s]ell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power,” or more colloquially, “[h]e who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”
Are the freedoms sacrificed worth the security gained?