HP INC has responded to yesterday’s open letter from the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) protesting against the company's decision to bork printers for customers using third-party inks.
Jon Flaxman, chief operating officer at HP Inc, confirmed in a blog post entitled 'Dedicated to the best printing experience' that the company will offer an “optional firmware update” that will undo the “dynamic security” feature that has stopped third-party inks working.
However, the post added: “We will continue to use security features to protect the quality of our customer experience, maintain the integrity of our printing systems, and protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working.”
So in other words, there’s a promise to give you the option to undo the damage but no promise that the firm won’t do the same again. However, Flaxman acknowledged that the communication, or lack thereof, was pretty poor.
“We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologise. Although only a small number of customers have been affected, one customer who has a poor experience is one too many,” he wrote.
Slightly annoying this, because it represents another example of a company so short sighted that it believed customers would just lie down and take it.
The explanation stops short, however, of some of the EFF’s demands. First of all, the apology is very much of the 'sorry but' variety, stopping short of admitting that the company was wrong. But that’s normal in corporate circles. The lawyers will have seen to that.
HP Inc doesn’t promise to roll back the firmware, just to offer an optional patch which will take some tech knowledge to install as it won’t be automatic.
The firm hasn’t admitted the “bait-and-switch” tactic, as the EFF described it, or that the six-month delay was an “anti-feature”, so it also won’t commit to not doing it again because it hasn’t admitted it in the first place. However, the blog commits to better communication.
Whether this extends to future plans in sales literature isn’t laid out, but we might get some small print if we’re lucky. We shall see.
The one element not engaged at all is the idea of Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which the EFF suggested HP could use to prosecute anyone trying to circumvent the security, even if for benign purposes such as security research.
That was a tall order in the first place, so we’re not entirely surprised that Flaxman doesn’t go down that road. But who knows? Perhaps the company will take up the mantle with the EFF privately.
It’s worth pointing out before we get accused of being a Polly Prissy-Pants that HP has never stopped all third-party cartridges working, only those without the security chip built into genuine supplies. As long as the re-manufacturing process doesn’t damage the chip, it’s a storm in a teacup. µ
Hold the front page
Bluesky's the limit
Might need to come up with a better name though
There's an app for *that*