The Curmudgeon


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bankers Expose Yet More Flaws in University System

Those perennial victims, the banking sector, have again fallen prey to gratuitous malice; this time from the Government's old enemies in the education industry. The UK Cards Association, which protects the public from discomfiture about inadequate security, has ordered Cambridge University to remove a student's thesis from its website because it describes a flaw in the chip-and-PIN system. The UK Cards Association complains that this "places in the public domain a blueprint for building a device which purports to exploit a loophole in the security of chip and PIN". If the bankers have decided that a loophole shall remain open, then open it shall remain; it is the duty of the education industry to ensure that the public stay sufficiently unaware for the problem to be profitably ignored.

Unfortunately, the professor of security engineering at Cambridge's computer laboratory displayed a wholly unconstructive attitude and showed a dangerous naïvety about the purposes of education and research in a big society: "You seem to think we might censor a student's thesis, which is lawful and already in the public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient," he wrote, while maliciously making the thesis even easier to find. He also expressed surprise that the chair of the UK Cards Association, Melanie Johnson, should have ordered the censorship: "as a former MP she must be aware of the Human Rights Act", he told the Guardian, tactfully omitting to state that as a former New Labour minister she must be violently opposed to the Human Rights Act in everything but name.

Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition has, of course, done much to bring university culture in line with the emotional needs of the banking sector; but it is not as yet clear whether it will be considering legislation to minimise excess thesis promulgation.


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