In December, the US Congress passed legislation that allowed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant a waiver to print businesses that would allow them to print digital copies of documents that could be used for any purpose.
For now, the waiver has only been granted for the federal government, but digital printers are also permitted for use by individual states.
In a statement, a spokesperson for HHS said that, “The Department has determined that a number of businesses are using their digital printing services for purposes other than the intended purpose, and will grant a provisional waiver if a business demonstrates that they are able to provide the same quality and accuracy at the time they are used.”
Digital printers are more advanced than paper and are generally much cheaper to manufacture, but the waivers have been criticized for their potential for abuse.
In 2013, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Massachusetts was dismissed, but in 2016, a federal judge ruled that the agency could grant a temporary waiver if it had the authority to do so.
The ruling was upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016.
The ACLU of Southern California, which brought the suit, argued that the temporary waiver granted by HHS “does not grant the waiver authority necessary for the Secretary to grant this temporary waiver” because it does not “establish that the Government can adequately ensure that the waiver will not be abused.”
The judge wrote that the “dispute over whether digital printing will be available to individuals with disabilities has nothing to do with digital printing technology.”
The digital printer exemption also came up during a Senate hearing on March 2, 2017, during which Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) grilled deputy Secretary of Health Edith Ramirez.
In response to a question about whether digital printers would be allowed under the waiver, Ramirez said, “I don’t think so.”
Grassley pressed her further, asking whether the government should “do the best we can for the millions of Americans that have digital printers.”
“I think there is some flexibility there,” Ramirez said.
“You know, you can’t have the full flexibility.
On the other hand, digital printers have been used by some of the country’s largest corporations, including Amazon, eBay, and Google, to produce goods that were previously sold on paper. “
I do think that the digital printing service industry, and particularly the digital printers that have come in as a result of this, should be a little bit more careful and cautious, especially with respect to their future,” she added.
On the other hand, digital printers have been used by some of the country’s largest corporations, including Amazon, eBay, and Google, to produce goods that were previously sold on paper.
In 2016, Amazon and eBay agreed to an agreement that requires them to stop selling items that are printed on paper in 2018.