Canon to launch system that blocks banned words from being printed, scanned or faxed
Uniflow (or 'uniFLOW'), which is only available on very high-end (and expensive) Canon products, is a management suite used by large businesses -- such as law firms -- that need to keep track of every printed document. In its current form, Uniflow keeps a record of everything that is scanned, copied, printed or faxed -- but now, even the content of your document will be parsed before you can interact with a Canon device.
With this new technology, you could walk up to a photocopier, place the paper face-down, ... and it will refuse to copy your document. The "start" button simply won't work. Better yet, the Uniflow server will email a PDF copy of the document to the system administrator! If you try to print from your computer, you will receive an email that says "sorry, you can't print that." Canon representatives admitted that a determined user could bypass banned keywords by substituting numbers for letters -- b0mb or pr0n -- and indeed, if someone wants to copy a document, they will find a way to do so.
While this is very much an enterprise-level technology, you can only begin to imagine the implications if such a technology was to find its way to consumer-level devices -- which it surely will in the next few years. A parent could prevent his child from printing homework with liberal -- or conservative -- points of view. Book publishers could use hidden watermarks that only scanners can see, and thus refuse to copy.
This could finally be the beginnings of DRM for the printed medium! Woohoo!