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Banks Want Cambridge Student’s Chip-And-PIN Expose Censored: University Replies

by | 27th, December 2010

THE letter to Cambridge University came from the UK Cards Association – a UK card payments industry body whose chief aims is to Promote best practice across the card payment industry“. It has read a student’s master’s thesis that comments on a flaw in the Chip-and-PIN system. It wants the thesis censored.

The UKCA received a reply from the Cambridge’s Ross Anderson sent a reply.

Second, you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis, which is lawful and already in the public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work. Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton, and of Darwin; censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values. Thus even though the decision to put the thesis online was Omar’s, we have no choice but to back him. That would hold even if we did not agree with the material! Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent…

In conclusion:

You complain that our work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will support public confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting its weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in effecting the necessary remedies. Your letter shows that, instead, your member banks do their lamentable best to deprecate the work of those outside their cosy club, and indeed to censor it.

Your challenge is to distill all that into a well-known two-word phrase…

Spotter: Samizdata



Posted: 27th, December 2010 | In: Money Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink