Saturday, November 1, 2008

Comprehensive Support/Inquiry Package

I finished my package to send to Lexmark's headquarters in Kentucky. The contents:
  • Polite, concise letter, detailing the problem, the support and correspondence to date, and some of the "evidence" I've also included.
  • Appendix A: Scanned, enhanced, and re-printed evidence of my printer's forensic tracking dots. Ironically printed on the very same printer!
  • Appendix B: Scanned, enhanced, and re-printed evidence of forensic tracking dots on at least two other printers at the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Appendix C: Email correspondence to date.
  • Lexmark Print Quality Test - normal settings.
  • Lexmark Print Quality Test - yellow & magenta photoconductors swapped.
  • Lexmark Print Quality Test - yellow & magenta toner cartridges swapped.
  • Lexmark C530 Menu Settings Page
  • Two test pages from Lexmark C760 and C752 printers at the U of S.
Final Page Count: 29

The letter itself was two pages, but here is the "meat":
I understand some of the reasons for including these “forensic tracking dots” – counterfeit detection, namely – I do not believe it is justified. It is a violation of my fundamental human right to privacy and private life for this function to be included on the product without my prior knowledge or consent. I would like to see companies doing their due diligence and making this information known before customers commit to a purchase, especially one totalling hundreds of dollars (perhaps thousands including toner over the printer’s lifetime).

I can assure you that my interest in using my Lexmark C530 to participate in illegal counterfeiting or other activities is null, but I am concerned about my privacy. Given that my printer’s pattern is the same regardless of Toner Cartridge or Photoconductor Unit, anyone with a reference page can associate a document I’ve printed to me, and on principle I find this unacceptable.

The least I can hope for is a response with some details, or potentially some additional information. I am not expecting a fix at this point. I've read some scary stuff - the incident that prompted the EFF investigation was when a guy phoned his printer company to inquire about the yellow dots - a week later, the United State Secret Service showed up at his door.

If I get a non-satisfactory response from this venue, I'm not close to being out of options. There is Lexmark's Canadian headquarters in Richmond Hill, ON, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Consumer Protection Branch of the Government of Saskatchewan, the Canadian BBB, Lexmark's corporate executive, Lexmark's Board of Directors, and my very-favorite consumer rights blog, the Consumerist. There's also the long-shot potential for local media coverage - nothing major, probably a small write-up. Nothing I've done yet is quite newsworthy, so I will hold off on all new contacts until Lexmark is able to send me a response. I'm a big supporter of consumer and privacy rights, so I will push this issue until I can get a satisfactory response from someone!

Until then, maybe we can crack the encoding on the Lexmark's forensic dots...

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