Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Printing with our eyes closed

A few days ago I read a news item about printers adding a secret code to every print. Apparently this code can be used to trace back which printer originally did the printing. This obviously is handy for, for example police to trace back somebody who tried to print fake concert-tickets or god-forbid money! I must admit I both such instances mostly remind me of a Beavis & Butthead episode where they try and copy coins in a copy machine.

Regardless however, shortly after this news item was published a few government-representatives responded to it in relative shock. They said they wanted legislation that forces printer-manufactures to say their printers add this secret code. Which again in itself validated a new article apparently. And as with almost everything online, readers can comment on these articles.

What amazed me was the sheer stupidity and short-sightedness of almost all those who responded. Most people attacked these politicians with comments in the vein of "why does it have to be so hard to track criminals?" and "if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear". That last statement of course being almost the archetype of stupidity and naivety.

What about people who live in countries where the government does not have their best interest in mind? What about opposition in countries like China, Iran? If they print information or even notes about meetings they can also be traced.

People here in the West are often so short-sided. Lack of privacy here doesn't seem so bad, because we trust our government (at least the Dutch usually do). But the world isn't as save a place as here, and also here it hasn't always been this save. Nor is there any reason to assume this never would change. I'm just amazed at how some people can be so short-sided and so live within their own bubble. Being unable to imagine other kinds of situations.

Original article (dutch)
Followup article (dutch)
Responses to followup article (dutch)


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