Treat, or Trick? The US Military Orders “Multi-Function” Printer/Fax Machines
Treat, or trick? Both, it seems. The key question is whether the machines are color – and whether they contain a widespread anti-feature that few people know about.
At the end of October 2013, Army Contracting Command in Fort Huachuca, AZ issued a $498 million firm-fixed-price, multiple award task order contract to provide the Army with commercial-off-the-shelf “multi-functional devices” (all-in-one printer, fax. etc.), associated refills, and related services. “Equipment under this program will be available for lease or purchase, and shall be compliant with current Army security standards.”
On the topic of printer security…
Here’s a little-known anti-feature – one that might even be useful within the military. In 2005, the Electronic Frontier Foundation demonstrated that many color printers secretly encode the printer serial number, date, and time on every page that they print, providing an effective trace code for every page. It was originally pushed on manufacturers as a money counterfeiting safeguard, and isn’t a legal requirement, but it appears to be fairly pervasive. Of course, the technology has other potential uses. Outing the origin of security leaks, for instance. Or of whistleblowers.
This acquisition includes accessories, associated consumable supplies, maintenance, and repair services. Work location and funding will be determined by each order. Bids were solicited via the Internet with 7 received. All qualified:
- Canon USA Inc. in Arlington, VA (W9124A-14-D-0002)
- Cartridge Technologies Inc. in Rockville, MD (W9124A-14-D-0003)
- Konica Minolta Business Solutions Inc. in Vienna, VA (W9124A-14-D-0005)
- KST Data Inc. in Los Angeles, CA (W9124A-14-D-0007)
- Lexmark International Inc. in Lexington, KY (W9124A-14-D-0006)
- Ricoh USA Inc. in Malvern, PA (W9124A-14-D-0004)
- Xerox Corp. in Lewisville, TX (W9124A-14-D-0001)
No HP… that’s got to hurt.