Pressrelease, Digital Security, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 18 juli 2008

Radboud University Nijmegen allowed to publish Mifare Classic Chip article

Radboud University Nijmegen is pleased to learn that the judge in the preliminary injunction court in Arnhem has ruled in a summary injunction that Dr. B. Jacobs, Professor of Computer Security, may publish his article on the Mifare Classic Chip. The judge has ruled that publishing this scientific article falls under the principle of freedom of expression and that in a democratic society it is of great importance that the results of scientific research can be published. The article will be published at the beginning of October during a scientific conference in Malaga in Spain.

In March 2008 researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen, led by Professor Bart Jacobs, demonstrated that the Mifare Classic Chip, as used in a variety of applications and in the national `OV' public transport chip card, has shortcomings. Driven by a sense of social responsibility, the University immediately and confidentially informed the Dutch Government as well as the manufacturer (NXP) of the results of the independent research on the Mifare Classic Chip. Since March, the researchers have deliberately withheld further details of the imperfections of the chip in order to give those involved, including NXP, the opportunity to take the necessary steps. Publication of the scientific article was anticipated in October 2008 and in June the article was sent confidentially to NXP so that NXP could ask for a legal opinion.

At the beginning of July, NXP decided to take out an injunction against Professor Jacobs and Radboud University Nijmegen in order to prevent publication of the scientific article. Radboud University Nijmegen countered with the view that such a ban would inhibit the academic freedom to carry out research, including the freedom to publish. In the opinion of the University, the evidence-based results of this research must find their way into the public sphere in order to achieve societal significance.

The judge decided in the University's favour. Among the considerations in the case was the fact that in a democratic society it is of great importance that the results of scientific research can be published - and that society can thus be informed about the shortcomings of a product, so that action can be taken against the risks thereof.

What's more, the judge was of the opinion that Radboud University Nijmegen has acted with due care.