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Something rotten in the state of Denmark


Published: 30 March, 2012


There is something a little mad about the stories which are running this week, both in the UK and Australia, regarding the professional ethics of NDS, which some press are accusing of perpetrating hacks against rivals to its major partner and one time owner, News Corp.

As a company which covers this industry, not just in Australia and the UK, but around the world, there are many situation where it would be hugely advantageous to News Corp to see "hacks" happen to the encryption system or pay TV rivals, but it is one thing to take some pleasure in a rival's failure to stop piracy, and quite another to instigate the breach in privacy directly.

Most emails are now claimed to have been taken out of context and clear examples of this are being circulated from NDS throughout the UK's press.

Modern hardware based encryption systems are tough to crack and any company like NDS has so much to lose, it's entire validity as an organization for one thing, if it was ever found to have been involved in such activity. Not to mention that it would have to waste expensive resources to do so, which would be inevitably tracked back to their origins. Which is why we have virtually ignored these stories as unlikely and misinformed. If they continue and pick up speed, we will pick them up, but for the time being, we cannot see that anything new has been added to the weight of accusation that has always been levied against NDS.

Many members of the press in both of those countries "want" this story to be true, whereas the mobile phone hacking scandal in the UK, is one that is clearly true, and is being followed to its logical conclusion and has led to arrests, dismissals and resignations, and needs to be followed through further to its ultimate conclusion. It is easy to listen in on mobile phone conversations. It is not easy to hack another company's conditional access system, and if it was, there are plenty of people who are NOT employed by NDS who would do it for the profit that's in it - proper professional pirates and they are the more likely and legitimate suspects.

News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has said that he is preparing libel cases against his rivals for the stories they have run, and these are likely to appear and be successful. Why are we giving News Corp a stick to beat all its detractors with when it still has the phone hacking scandal to answer to. Remember that in the US, after years of collecting evidence, it took a High Court Jury almost no time to throw out the case brought against NDS by Nagrastar and Dish Network, since all that could be proved as a single instance of its engineers breaking the system, ostensibly to make their own system stronger. There was no evidence of the hack being distributed and in the end damages were minimal, and the costs awarded to Dish were later reversed and NDS picked up costs.

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