On Campus

British banks try to censor research

Cambridge student exposes flaw in chip and PIN technology

A Cambridge University professor has come to the defense of a student whose research exposed a flaw in debit card chip and PIN technology. In his master’s thesis, computer science student Omar Choudary demonstrated how chip and PIN technology, intended to make cards more secure, can be overridden with a simple device. “When the card is inserted into a chip and PIN machine at a till, the device uses electronics to ensure the card is accepted,” the Daily Mail reported. Former Labour Treasury Minister Melanie Johnson, who now chairs the UK Cards Association, requested that Cambridge’s press office remove the research from its website. Ross Anderson, one of Choudary’s advisors, told Johnson that “It’s not the PR department who decides what gets published at a university.” He added that “Censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values.”

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