Feeds

Mythbusters RFID episode axed after 'pressure' from credit card firms

Bust this

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Update: Since we published this story MythBusters host Adam Savage has backtracked on claims that Discovery Channel caved into commercial pressure in canceling a planned show on RFID technology. See new story here.

Discovery Channel prevented the exploration of RFID security by Mythbusters, the popular science television show, after allegedly coming under pressure from credit card companies.

Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage said a planned segment of the program was going to look at how hackable, reliable and trackable RFID technology might be. A researcher for the show called up Texas Instruments to arrange a conference call to talk about the technology.

But when the call took place, Texas Instruments brought along big legal guns from the credit card industry.

"Texas Instruments comes on along with chief legal counsel for American Express, Visa, Discover, and everybody else," Savage told delegates at the recent HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference.

"They [MythBusters production team] were way, way outgunned and they [lawyers] made it really clear to Discovery that they were not going to air this episode talking about how hackable this stuff was. Discovery backed down being a large corporation that depends upon the revenue of the advertisers. Now it's on Discovery's radar and they won't let us go near it."

Texas Instruments has responded to these accusations by saying that only one lawyer took part in the conference call, and that technical questions were explored. It said that it wasn't involved in putting pressure on Mythbusters or Discovery to drop the segment, suggesting it got credit card firms involved because they were more familiar with contactless payment technologies.

"Technical questions were asked and answered and we were to wait for MythBusters to let us know when they were planning on showing the segment. A few weeks later, Texas Instruments was told by MythBusters that the storyline had changed and they were pursuing a different angle which did not require our help," TI told CNET in a statement.

Savage's completely different take on this conversation can be found in a clip posted on YouTube:

The use of RFID technology in passports and credit cards has increased the profile of the technology. Security researchers have demonstrated a variety of techniques for snooping on data held on RFID chips, created cloned chips and other exploits.

Advertisers, credit card companies may have been able to apply commercial pressure to make sure Mythbusters was prevented from exploring the issue, but the wider debate will go on regardless. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.