Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) criticizes HP

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) criticizes HP heavily for it's move to block third party ink cartridges on some of its ink jet printers.


A few days ago I published the article HP printer firmware disables refill ink cartridges. Some users of HP ink jet printers are facing problems with third party refill ink cartridges after September 13, 2016. This is a result of a firmware update for several HP printers, rolled out in March 2016.

In an open letter What HP Must Do to Make Amends for Its Self-Destructing Printers to HP's CEO Dion Weisler, EFF addresses the latest move made by HP. According to EFF, HP abused its security update mechanism to trick its customers. HP deprived its customers of a useful, legitimate feature, offered as a kind of "security update" (according to EFF). Especially the time between releasing the firmware update (March 2016) and setting the ink cartridge detection active (September 2016) is, according to EFF, a "bait-and-switch"-behavior.

EFF call on HP to take the following five steps, immediately:

  1. Apologize to affected customers, and restore the original functionality of their printers with a firmware update that rolls back the self-destruct sequence;
  2. Publicly commit that HP will never again use your software update process to distribute anti-features that work against your customers' interests;
  3. Publicly commit that the effects of any software updates will be fully disclosed;
  4. Prominently disclose any capability or plan to remove features from devices in your sales literature, so customers know what they're getting before they buy;
  5. Promise to never invoke Section 1201 of the DMCA against security researchers or competitors who make legitimate aftermarket products.

More details may be read within the open letter What HP Must Do to Make Amends for Its Self-Destructing Printers. The EFF has also set up a petition Tell HP — Say No to DRM and asks to join this petition. For me, the interesting thing is: Companies are spending billion dollar budgets for marketing to set the company and its products in a positive light. And then some "decision makers" are pulverizing this within hours with such a stupid move.

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