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Lexmark accused of installing spyware

A Usenet news group has claimed that Lexmark is installing spyware on its customers' computers

Allegations have been swirling around an online newsgroup this week that printer manufacturer Lexmark has been installing spyware on its customers' computers.

Reports on the comp.periphs.printers Usenet newsgroup claim that Lexmark has been planting spyware on its customers' PCs in the form of undocumented software that monitors the use of its printers and silently reports back to a Lexmark-owned company Web site.

One user said that after initially denying the allegations, Lexmark acknowledged installing tracking software that reported printer and cartridge use back to the company for survey purposes. He claimed that Lexmark said no personal data was taken by the program, and that it was impossible to identify anyone by it.

However, users installing the software are prompted to fill in a registration form including their name and the serial number of the product.

The newsgroup posting claims that the program, found on the X5250 installation software, embeds itself in the registry and monitors the use of the printer through DLL files in the c:\program_files\lexmark500 folder.

The program sends the information, which includes print and scanning data, to the URL www.lxkcc1.com. According to the Internet Whois database, this domain name belongs to Lexmark International in Kentucky.

Lexmark's UK office has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Whose fault is it all anyway? Rupert Goodwins looks at the issues in more depth here.