Electronic Frontier Foundation Demands HP Promise Not to Issue Firmware Upgrades that Block Third-Party Cartridges

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that HP Inc.’s apology and promise of a firmware upgrade that would un-block use of third-party ink cartridges in various HP color inkjet Officejet printers and All-in-Ones, says that the HP “needs to promise never to use a security update” that would block use of third-party cartridges. The EFF is a nonprofit organization founded in 1990 and states its mission is “defending civil liberties in the digital world,”

The troubles began last month, when, after an HP firmware upgrade, many users complained that they weren’t able to use third-party, non-HP ink cartridges in their printers and All-in-Ones. HP issued an apology, and said that it would shortly provide a firmware upgrade that would un-block use of third-party cartridges – but didn’t say that it would not take action in the future to block third-party cartridges. HP JetIntelligence toner cartridges, for instance, are equipped with sensors that block the use of non-HP toner cartridges.

The EFF also demands that HP “promise not to attack security researchers who disclose vulnerabilities in its printers.” The group states that: “It’s great to see HP underwriting tech-oriented podcasts and TV shows about security, but when they add digital locks to their inkjet cartridges, they’re sending a legal signal that security researchers can hear clear across the net. That’s because Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — which protects locks that control access to copyrighted works — has been used to prosecute and harass security researchers who want to warn you about dangers lurking in the equipment you have put your trust in. When security researchers have to sue the federal government for the right to do their jobs, HP needs to tell us where they stand on this issue.”

The EFF also asks that HP disclose which models have been affected by the cartridge-blocking update, and if it will alert affected customers that there’s a patch to un-block them.

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