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Canon adds document censor to uniFLOW

Canon has released its latest uniFLOW print management software, and it comes with a controversial addition - in-built censorship that prevents the printing, scanning, or copying of certain words and phrases.

The newest release of the uniFLOW software, version 5.0, brings with it compatibility with the imageWARE Secure Audit Manager - a keyword-based system that searches for user-configurable blacklisted content and prevents such material from being scanned or duplicated.

The system works by using an in-built rapid optical character recognition package to automatically convert a scanned image into text, which it then compares to a list of 'banned' words and phrases that the administrator can configure. If a document is found to contain something present on the blacklist, the scanning or copying job is automatically terminated - and an e-mail sent to the security department, optionally containing a PDF copy of the offending material.

The censorship system operates on a user-by-user basis, so it's perfectly possible for the chief executive of a company to happily scan documents for which the peons would be penalised.

It's an addition to the system that will certainly find favour in today's increasingly security-conscious corporate environment, but one which indicates a worrying trend for previously 'dumb' devices to suddenly become 'smart' - and, in the case of a document scanner hooked up to the auditing software, a snitch to boot.

The remaining features of uniFLOW 5.0 are less worrisome: support for non-Canon devices added, an SQL connector for data import or export, improved drivers, and a new scanning workflow which offers integration with Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and other document management systems.