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3D printing technology poses a “grave and growing threat” to individual privacy because of the potential for products to reveal private information about individuals, experts have warned.
People could use cameras, laptops or mobile phones to track and trace the origins of 3D printed objects and how they have been used if they have watermarks.
A new study warns about a lack of awareness among governments and companies about privacy issues associated with 3D printers, and calls for changes to treaties on copyright law and international human rights law.
The research, by Dr Annika Jones from Durham University and Dr James Griffin from the University of Exeter, recommends a new voluntary code of conduct to protect people’s privacy, and a regulatory body to provide guidance and oversight.
The experts carried out 30 in-depth interviews with representatives from Chinese 3D printing companies.
The research warns the rise of the Internet of Things, the increasing complexity of watermarking technologies that can survive transfer between different file formats, and the ability for big data to track 3D printed content could allow greater state surveillance of individuals.
Dr Griffin said: “3D printing will have a profound impact upon our notions of social privacy. This …
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