Unmasking the Privacy Policies of Popular Printing Services


From Tax Forms to Love Letters: Is Your Printer the Newest Digital Snoop?

As you know, the age of digital file-sharing and intrusive business practices from printing manufacturers has shifted the purchasing processes of businesses and households. With a number of users leveraging local printing services instead of owning printers, potential privacy issues arise. Major OEMs utilizing mobile apps and cloud-based storage have opportunities to collect personal data, leaving consumers concerned about their privacy.

“We do not see or store any content printed using our devices or the HP Smart App,” spokeswoman Katie Derkits said in a statement to The Washington Post.


While services like the New York Public Library and PrintWithMe ensure they don’t store file content, or at least delete it daily, others such as Canon, FedEx, and Staples have been less transparent about their privacy practices.

HP states in its privacy policy that it doesn’t store file content when its printers or the HP Smart app are used. However, Canon‘s policy lists “files and other content” as the personal data it can collect, with room to use these files for marketing. In an interview with The Washington Post, Canon declined to disclose whether it stores, uses, or shares the content of documents printed.

FedEx’s privacy policy reveals it collects “user uploaded information,” potentially using it for advertising or sharing with third parties. The company didn’t disclose the duration of data storage. Similarly, UPS‘s privacy policy suggests it can store the contents of printed documents, but it doesn’t use this information for marketing or advertising without user permission. The length of data storage remained unclear.

The Staples privacy policy suggests it can store personal data, including “copy/print materials,” and might use such materials for advertising. However, Staples did not disclose the length of data storage.

PrintWithMe, a company that places printers in shared spaces, stores printed documents with a third-party cloud provider for 24 hours but insists the data is never used for advertising. Local libraries can decide their printer privacy policies, but the New York Public Library does not store printed document contents, storing only file names that are deleted daily.

In light of the ongoing and evolving remote work environment, helping your customers understand the risks around using outside and OEM-centric print solutions will set you apart. Indeed, for you personally, there isn’t a more apparent example of reading “the writing on the wall” when it comes to predicting our industry’s future.

Read more, here.

– Greg Walters, Head Writer