Recently, HP pushed a firmware update, which would verify whether its Officejet Pro printers were using third-party or official HP ink cartridges. If the printers were not using HP cartridges, then they would stop printing. Last week, the EFF called on HP to fix this and allow its now DRM-locked printers to once again print using third-party cartridges. HP eventually responded, saying it would push an update to make the cartridge verification optional.
Although pleased with the quick response from HP, the EFF believes the company needs to do much more to repair the damage this action did to the image of HP’s printer business.
No More Sneaky “Security Updates”
The EFF wants HP to promise that it would never do “security updates,” which is what HP called its firmware DRM lock, to remove features from users' printers.
This is a problem for the real security of HP’s printers, though, because we’re now living in a time when such devices are infected and made part of botnets that can do terabit-per-second DDoS attacks. Users should want to update their printers as soon as there is a bug in them, not try to avoid the updates because HP might sneak in some DRM code. This is why software companies should never betray the trust of their users by calling something a security update, unless it actually is one.
Promise Not To Sue Security Researchers
Because HP is now adding DRM to its printers, the EFF believes the company should at least promise not to sue security researchers that uncover vulnerabilities in the printers’ code. Section 1201 of the DMCA allows companies to sue security researchers that tinker with their code, and HP could do that as well if it so decided.
The EFF is currently in a lawsuit against the U.S. government to try and invalidate Section 1201 of the DMCA.
The EFF said that HP should come clean on which models are affected by the DRM issue. HP may be fixing the printers that everyone knows were affected by its update, but were there other models that were also affected? If so, does HP plan to tell users that they need to get the new update so their printer can print again?
The last time the EFF called out HP about this issue, only 10,000 signatures were needed to get the company to quickly reverse its position and promise a fix. The EFF hopes you’ll sign its petition to HP again to implement its latest requests, as well.