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 user 2005-03-31 at 10:19:00 am Views: 45
  • #11188
    Printing firms admit taking data 

    Lexmark and HP have confirmed that they are using software
    that reports back on the way people are using their printer products.

    The two printing manufacturers use the software to
    understand customer behaviour, and the installation on PCs is automatic once the
    users have consented. The companies say that they do not collect any personal
    information that can be traced back to the user.

    Lexmark has confirmed that its printer software installs a
    discrete program called Lexmark Connect, which automatically collects and
    transmits information on the use of its printers.

    “We’re completely transparent about this initiative,” said
    Pierre-Olivier Pulveric, marketing director for Lexmark in France. “Lexmark
    Connect is a small application which sends us very general information about
    your printing habits every 30 days.”

    The company claimed the program was helping it to develop
    its products.

    “To motivate users, they are able to participate in
    competitions to win products or special offers from time to time,” Pulveric
    said. “After installing the printer, a Web page allows you to register online
    and to take part in Lexmark Connect.”

    To avoid the program being installed, the user has to opt
    out after following a set of instructions at the same time as registering for
    their guarantee.

    Lexmark says that the program is completely legal because
    there is no transmission of personal data. The program collects very specific
    data, such as the installation of the Lexmark product, the number of printed
    pages, the quantity of ink use, the type of printer and software used and the
    use of button commands.

    Some facts about the system being used are also transmitted,
    such as the type of processor, the amount of memory, the capacity of the hard
    drive, and the name, version and linguistic parameters of the operating

    Lexmark is not alone. Hewlett-Packard has been doing
    something similar for more than a year on its printers. The only difference is
    that it asks for the active opt-in consent of its clients, according to a
    spokesman for the firm.

    Fellow printer companies Epson and Canon said they rely on
    voluntary surveys to collect their information.