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Use a Scanner, Go to Jail

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Hewlett-Packard included a bulletin in a recent mailing to dealers warning them that, when demonstrating the capabilities of HP scanners, they must avoid scanning money and other "sensitive documents." Anyone who does scan such documents risks "Constructive Seizure" of their computer equipment, up to $25,000 in fines, or up to fifteen years imprisonment.

Apparently HP has learned of an incident where U.S. Treasury agents seized an HP ScanJet IIc scanner, HP DeskJet 500C printer, and an HP Vectra personal computer. The dealer and HP sales representative involved spent a considerable amount of time retrieving the equipment.

HP provides this list of guidelines from the U.S. government.

Unacceptable scanning:

  • Money
  • Federal Reserve notes
  • U.S. postage stamps
  • Foreign postage stamps
  • Revenue stamps
  • Other negotiable valuated articles (for example, checks, bonds, and securities)
  • Identification documents (for example, driver's license and governmental identification documents

Acceptable scanning:

  • Photographs of people, places, or things
  • Pictures from magazines, newsletters, and calendars
  • Other similar non-sensitive documents

We wish to add that, if you do scan photographs (or even text) from copyrighted publications, it's important to secure permission before using that material in any way.

Perhaps the government is concerned that computer input and output devices are becoming powerful enough that counterfeiting is (or will soon be) a real concern. We've seen the latest output technology, though, and we're skeptical that counterfeiting with multi-million-dollar technology would be cost-effective! Of course, until output quality catches up with the government's concerns, we'll be unable to avoid the image of a crook lugging along a 24-bit color 1152 x 870 monitor, trying to convince someone that the scanned image on it is legal tender!

[This article is being published simultaneously in TidBITS and Clicks!, the newsletter of the Ithaca Macintosh Users' Group.]

 

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