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Monday, January 10, 2011

News about 2 grad students: the good and the bad

Recently, I subscribed to Google’s news alert specifically on the topic “grad students”. I did it in order to be updated on whatever comes up in the news involving grad students. Interestingly enough, Google sent an email alert today, and these are the two most interesting news I have found.

1.Bad news first. Look at how university professors in Turkey allow such obscenity to stain the academe as an institution.

BBC News Europe. The news brings us to Bilgi University in Istanbul. Film student Deniz Ozgun made a porn film for his dissertation project. Obviously he failed the review.

It didn’t cause a stir at first. But Deniz gave an interview in a news magazine about how he filmed his project on campus. This caused the uproar among parents which caused the Board of Education to put pressure on the university to act.

The school has already closed its film department as well as fire three professors after the incident. (See Full Story)

2.Here comes the good news: nothing messes with academic freedom.

The Guardian. This brings us to Cambridge University. Computer security student Omar Choudary’s thesis described a flaw in the chip-and-pin (personal identification number) security system that allows criminals to make fraudulent transactions with a stolen bank card using any pin they care to choose. This was posted in the university website as is the practice for all master’s thesis after having passed the review.

However, The UK Cards Association, which represents major UK banks and building societies, asked Cambridge to remove the thesis from their website because allegedly it “places in the public domain a blueprint for building a device which purports to exploit a loophole in the security of chip and PIN.” Cambridge bluntly refused adding that they have already informed the banks about the loopholes since 2009.

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the university's Computer Laboratory, in his reply to the UKCA wrote “"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. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work.” (See Full Story)


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