Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 11/03/2002Here's a strange one. There's a company called NDS -- based in London but with labs in Jerusalem -- which does R&D for Rupert Murdoch's broadcasting interests.

Monday 11/03/2002

Here's a strange one. There's a company called NDS -- based in London but with labs in Jerusalem -- which does R&D for Rupert Murdoch's broadcasting interests. In particular, it does encryption for pay-per-view and other digital TV delights. It was in talks with a French company, Canal+, which does similar things for terrestrial and cable systems, about a merger. Makes sense.

But suddenly, Canal+ pulled out and instead of making with the sweet talk hit NDS with a lawsuit, saying that the company had worked out how to break Canal+'s encryption and then circulated the information to hackers via the Web. The situation is made more mysterious by the fact that NDS' head of security did indeed help fund a hacker Web site as "a legitimate intelligence gathering exercise" and that the Web site in question did indeed circulate information on how to break terrestrial encryption.

Hm.

I've long been on the opinion that there are more interesting things to pull out of the ether and play with than football matches or Hollywood movies, and never much bothered with that whole scene. But I did visit NDS's labs in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, and was closely questioned by the engineers about what I knew of terrestrial TV hacking -- I found it odd then that the company was taking such a keen interest in the matter, and it seems doubly odd now.

It'll make a cracking movie.

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