Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Printer Identification Techniques and Their Privacy Implications

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Mace



This paper explores current printer identification techniques which allow the origins of a printed document to be established. The printer used to create a particular document can be traced by using unique and hidden information contained within that document. Printer identification can ultimately lead to the printer’s owner(s) which provides a valuable tool to government agencies during criminal investigations involving forged documents or associated correspondence. Two groups of printer identification technique are examined. Passive techniques utilise microscopic flaws in a document’s print for printer matching while active techniques explicitly embed traceable data into a document. Evidence has emerged to suggest that embedding tracking data into printed documents has been employed since the 1980s. No legal precedents need be followed to obtain and use hidden tracking data nor does the public have to be informed of this practice. Related privacy concerns are discussed brought about by the potential to compromise the anonymity of every single printed document.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mace JC

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: School of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2010

Pages: 14

Print publication date: 01/07/2010

Source Publication Date: July 2010

Report Number: 1211

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne