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Murdoch Faces Allegations of Sabotage 201

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cloak-and-dagger dept.
Presto Vivace writes "Neil Chenoweth, of the Australian Financial Review, reports that the BBC program Panorama is making new allegations against News Corp of serious misconduct. This time it involves the NDS division of News Corp, which makes conditional access cards for pay TV. It seems that NDS also ran a sabotage operation, hiring pirates to crack the cards of rival companies and posting the code on The House of Ill Compute (thoic.com), a web site hosted by NDS. 'ITV Digital collapsed in March 2002 with losses of more than £1 billion, overwhelmed by mass piracy, as well as technical restrictions and expensive sports contracts. Its collapse left Murdoch-controlled BSkyB the dominant pay TV provider in the UK.' Chenoweth reports that James Murdoch has been an advocate for tougher penalties for pirates, 'These are property rights, these are basic property rights,' he said. 'There is no difference from going into a store and stealing a packet of Pringles or a handbag, and stealing something online. Right?'"
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Murdoch Faces Allegations of Sabotage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:16AM (#39481363)
    This guy is basically like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. What a horrible excuse for a person.
    • by philip.paradis (2580427) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:20AM (#39481381)

      Mr. Burns is funny, which has value. This is not funny.

      • by jhoegl (638955) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:37AM (#39481467)
        Yeah, but do you really think this is the only business that does this kind of thing?
        Hint... no... no you shouldnt think that.
        • I'm absolutely certain that this is not the only business that does this kind of thing, which makes it even less funny. Hint: over the years I've known and worked with people on both sides of the pen testing "game." In other words, people with hats of many colors.

        • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:46AM (#39481719)

          Yeah, but do you really think this is the only business that does this kind of thing?

          It may not be the only business that does this kind of thing, but it certainly seems to be the most visibly blatant at the moment, and that's telling for an organization that controls such a large amount of the media in the areas its malfeasance is being reported in.

          Seeking to crack opponents' tech, not a surprise.

          Hosting a site or forum dedicated to the tech, including security and the like, meh.

          Seeking to create ever-stronger penalties for violations of security, expected.

          Using corporate resources to crack a competitor's technology and intentionally posting the technical information needed to allow others to also crack said technology, while advocating for laws that should theoretically result in essentially a corporate death penalty- that's a surprise.

          Corporations are chartered by the government. Simple solution, revoke their charters when the violations stack on like we've seen with News Corp. Force the assets into auction, require revenues to pay legal damages and then distribute what remains proportionally to those stockholders that weren't also employed in the company and engaging in the wanton illegal activity or directly managing those who were.

          If corporations faced their charters' revocation, and if egregious offenders actually saw this happen from time to time with dramatic losses to stockholders, maybe stockholders and corporate officers would reduce the amount of corruption in their ranks.

          • by lexsird (1208192) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:22AM (#39482001)

            Great solution, mine was not so eloquent. It was shoot them all in the fucking head and be done with it. I think your solution is far better, it hurts them deep in the pockets and across the range of investors, and sets an example for other corporations and their investors. Mine isn't a good long term solution, it doesn't set up for a long standing accountability, they could avoid getting shot. Whereas using the law to strip them of their ill gotten gains and inflict them with punitive damages can be sustained as long as we have vigilant people who have learned from this era of corporate criminal corruption.

            • by ommerson (1485487)

              This is what we used to do to pirates in the UK

              Execution dock [wikipedia.org].

              It's still there, but has laid unused or quite some time.

            • by flyneye (84093)

              I give you kudos for the quickest, most cost effective solution though.The law can pillage and pilfer the smoking wreckage after the "Dirty Harry " ceremony.

          • by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:58AM (#39482541)
            This is not as far away as you might think.

            I'm heavily involved with a couple of huge European chemical companies and they found out that sustainability is the only thing that will keep them afloat for another century. They test if their reps are corrupt, if ethical guidelines are followed, that they don't leave a mess, how their employees fare worldwide, if they eed to get involved in education and how far away they are from their own goals. Which still is quite a bit. But still.

            The frequent corruption scandals German industry faced and a few other desasters have caused a serious shift in what they think is needed. Stockholders don't quite get it but they are still doing fine.

            Now I reckon this is also the case in other companies(I only consult those) so this makes Muroch Corp look like a bit of a dinosaur. You will not be able to steal, cheat, lie and sleaze your way to the top and can expect to end up with a slap on the wrist. Quite a few execs of Murdoch Corp are now facing charges, some are in jail. Also Murdoch had politics by the colloar for quite a while and now that public opinion swings the other side you can expect something quite drastic to happen in GB.

            There's an old Fry&Laurie sketch on Murdoch, that's how long his sleaze has been public knowledge.

            SCHADENFREUDEGASM indeed(thanks, dintech).
          • Corporations are chartered by the government. Simple solution, revoke their charters when the violations stack on like we've seen with News Corp.

            This is known as the "corporate death penalty".

            You don't hear the term much anymore, because punishing corporations for malfeasance isn't exactly in vogue these days.

          • by digitig (1056110)

            Corporations are chartered by the government. Simple solution, revoke their charters when the violations stack on like we've seen with News Corp. Force the assets into auction, require revenues to pay legal damages and then distribute what remains proportionally to those stockholders that weren't also employed in the company and engaging in the wanton illegal activity or directly managing those who were.

            But then where will the bribes -- er, campaign donations -- come from?

        • by dkf (304284)

          Yeah, but do you really think this is the only business that does this kind of thing?

          Doesn't make it right. Doesn't make it legal. Doesn't make it ethical. Doesn't mean we should let them get away with it. Time to get our punishing boots on.

        • And that makes it right?

        • All the more reason (Score:4, Interesting)

          by microbox (704317) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:22AM (#39484223)
          All the more reason to make an example out of Murdoch. What type of society do you want to live in? One where the powerful break the law and cow politicians by endlessly propagandising the public? The Murdoch's probably think of themselves as stand-up guys, but they have caused so much harm that it is an embarrassment to a civilised society. Jobs said that Murdoch should think about his legacy, like somehow the karma boggie-man will do something about his behaviour. I would put more faith in jail-time for serial malfeasance.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:54AM (#39481539)

        Call me a cynic, but when a wealthy sonofabitch who we all know corrupts the politics of multiple countries and plays dirty is caught at doing something like this, I think it's time for a good chuckle. My only hope is that if he ever really goes down, he'll take a few politicians down with him. He's enough of a scumbag to do it if he ever really loses his sway.

        • by guises (2423402)

          My only hope is that if he ever really goes down, he'll take a few politicians down with him. He's enough of a scumbag to do it if he ever really loses his sway.

          Which is, of course, why it's never going to happen.

          • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:12AM (#39482195)

            Really? Did you not see Sunday's headlines in the UK?

            A Murdoch publication published evidence of the Conservative party's deputy treasurer admitting you could buy access to the prime minister and influence policy for a £250,000 party donation.

            Nice to see these things exposed, but the timing and target weren't exactly coincidence. Murdoch knows he's on a downwar spiral in the UK and is already trying to take the PM with him.

            I'm not convinced Murdoch will get away with it this time, there's too much public anger and opposition pressure. Now that some semi-independent authorities in the police, judiciary, and oversight committees have become involved it's arguably even past the point it can be sweeped under the carpet.

            • by Custard Horse (1527495) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:35AM (#39482265)

              Sadly I think that it will be swept under the carpet. Murdoch has already replaced the News of the World with a Sunday edition of The Sun so everything is as it was before. The fact that Murdoch also owns the more respectable The Sunday Times means that he has both ends of the market.

              What we really need it for Murdoch's hapless son to be put in the frame for something serious only for him to give evidence against his father and bring the whole lot crashing down - including the politicians and police officers who have been paid off over the years.

            • by bfandreas (603438)
              Selling access to politicians seems to be common practice. We had a couple of scandals like that in Germany, too.

              I don't think the timing is ominous. The incident was simply disgusting, it was news, hacks were involved, so it got reported. That's exactly what a newspaper is for. Only this time it seems no phones were hacked. More likely the usual mix of whistle blowing, dumb luck, bribery and snooping. The newspaper business will never be squeaky clean and it doesn't have to be as rotten as News Corps was
            • published evidence of the Conservative party's deputy treasurer admitting you could buy access to the prime minister and influence policy for a £250,000 party donation.

              I'm not sure why this has been presented as a shocking expose. The list of donations and what access it gains you are on the Conservatives website [conservatives.com].

              • by Xest (935314)

                Because that list isn't comprehensive according to the expose.

                The expose made it clear that there is an additional level around the £250,000 mark that gives you access to greatly influence and suggest policy itself.

                The site you linked merely says the £50,000 mark (the highest advertised level) gives you the opportunity to meet the PM at certain events and nothing more.

        • Too big to jail (Score:5, Insightful)

          by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:38AM (#39482063)

          if he ever really goes down, he'll take a few politicians down with him

          And that's his protection, right there. All the politicos in a lot of countries know that if they investigate his companies too deeply they'll uncover such a can of politically interconnected worms that their governments would have to relocate to the nearest jail.

          He's been in so deep for so long that no major party would come out with clean hands, or be able to "cast the first stone". He knows it, they all know it and are just hoping that the media knows it too.

          • Re:Too big to jail (Score:5, Informative)

            by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad . c o . uk> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:03AM (#39482349) Homepage

            If only there were some kind of independent judicial inquiry [levesoninquiry.org.uk] currently in progress that was investigating the culture, practice & ethics of the press...

            At this point it's virtually impossible for politicians, at least in the UK, to avoid looking into anything involving News International or other new media organisations. Any attempt to deflect attention from allegations such as this would be met with a very nasty response from their voters.

            In retrospect, the fact that it took the hacking and possible manipulation of a murdered girl's voicemail to get people to pay attention is a little depressing, but at least now they are paying attention.

          • by tehcyder (746570)
            This is not insightful, see the reply below. News International/Corporation/the Murdochs are going to be taken apart in the UK. There are enough politicians and others who hate the Murdochs to follow this through for as long as it takes, and as it is in the public interest to uncover crooked police/politicians this story is not going to go away.

            I, for one, look forward to the day when James Murdoch is flown back to the UK in leg irons and forced to testify against his father to save his own skin from a
      • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:04AM (#39481579)

        And what about all the nerds that actually did it? It's not like he sat around writing code himself. What about their (existent?) scruples? Did they know who paid them or wonder why? Did they just ignore those questions so long as they could?

        You want to read this as a morality play about how a bad man did something wrong. I want to read it as being about how some pretty smart coders ran pretty sophisticated hacking ring and either be oblivious or indifferent to the fact that they were acting as modern-day thugs smashing up a rival's store.

        It's the old "bad apples" routine -- or as Solzhenitsyn [wikipedia.org] put it more eloquently: "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?â

        • I don't view this is a morality play. I simply said it isn't funny, and I meant what I said. On the morality bit, you might be surprised to learn that I don't believe in black and white absolutes of morality either. In my experience, it really is all a matter of perspective, painted in shades of gray.

          While others may certainly feel differently, I draw the humor line at the point where lots of real people lose their jobs and see their lives wrecked because of acts like this. I'm not saying Murdoch is guilty

        • by Y-Crate (540566) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:32AM (#39481871)

          And what about all the nerds that actually did it?

          They'll inevitably get hefty prison sentences, while Murdoch goes free with a "please don't do any more bad things until the next time you do bad things" warning.

        • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

          by Xest (935314) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:18AM (#39482207)

          "And what about all the nerds that actually did it? It's not like he sat around writing code himself. What about their (existent?) scruples? Did they know who paid them or wonder why? Did they just ignore those questions so long as they could?"

          None of that happened. The company that made the decryption cards was owned 50% by News International, and it made cards for Sky, and competitors like ITV's On Digital. Murdoch was a non-executive director at the company then this happened too.

          There was no hacking, the company that made the cards was leaking the decryption keys, likely at the behest of James Murdoch/News International who had such a stake in the company.

          • NDS (HQ based in Israel) makes the "smart cards" for all the Murdoch companies that require Smart card technology.

            ITV Digital / On Digital used smart cards made by Canal+ (A French company).

            Canal+ took NDS/Murdoch to court in 2002 accusing them of leaking the French companies data to Pirate websites.
            Murdoch settled out of court by agreeing to buy some of Canal+'s non-profitable properties.

            Also check out Echostar (Dish Network). NDS did the EXACT same thing to their smart card technology, Echostar took them

        • by tomhath (637240)

          The Nerds That Actually Did It are the ones pointing fingers, claiming innocence in the matter and blaming NDS for everything. Apparently both ITV and BSkyB were losing a lot of money to piracy, ITV was also losing money in other ways and went bust.

          Whether NDS was the one leaking the information, whether they were both leaking each other's information, or whether third parties were also involved is speculation at this point. My guess is all of the above.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It'll be fucking hilarious if he ends up in jail.

    • We know he's a pirate because he distributes file sharing software: http://www.fileplanet.com/73/0/0/0/1/section/File_Sharing [fileplanet.com]

      Scroll to the bottom and note it's operated by IGN Entertainment. Then check who owns IGN: http://corp.ign.com/about/ [ign.com]

      That's right, News Corp, Murdoch's company.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      I can picture Murdoch in drag with his stolen handbag and Pringles chips in front of the mirror "ah , yes, my plan is coming together, just as soon as Simpson cracks Turners card, I will rule the World"

    • Borderline Snidely Whiplash disorder.
  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:23AM (#39481405) Journal

    If ITV Digital was a publicly traded company
    And it has ceased to exist due to bankruptcy
    And the bankruptcy proceedings have been all wound up
    And the allegations against BSkyB are true
    And BSkyB can be successfully sued for large damages for what they did to ITV Digital

    Who could bring such a suit? How would the proceeds be distributed? The obvious candidates are ITV Digital's creditors (who got paid less than they were owed) and ITV Digital's shareholders. However, it won't always be clear who owns those shares and bad debts, as they've been assumed to have zero value, so haven't been tracked since the end of bankruptcy.

    • by c (8461)

      > Who could bring such a suit?

      Former ITV Digital customers might have a pretty good class-action lawsuit.

  • by drmofe (523606) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @12:48AM (#39481505)
    ...the close resemblance between Rupert Murdoch and Emperor Palpatine...?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:06AM (#39481585)

    NDS card hacking has been well known for a long time. They spent a year with some 30 guys using electron microscopes to reverse engineer their competitor's cards. When they published each new revision, they destroyed the Dish network's profitability for years, and everyone else using their competitor's technology. NDS mades the cards for DirecTV. They actually rate the security of their chips in electron-microscope years. This is well known, and well known that NDS and DirecTV are more Murdoch properties. I'm sure the people who have been discussing this for years are not surprised by the phone hacking scandal, which is like comparing pre-school with ... electron microscope school?

    • Yeah, I thought this had come and gone already. There were even lawsuits over it IIRC.

      • Yeah, I thought this had come and gone already. There were even lawsuits over it IIRC.

        Yeah, there were. Two were dropped when NewsCorp acquired the parent companies many years later and the third closed a couple of weeks ago finding NDS guilty on just one technicality and cleared of the rest. Echostar (Dish) won $1,000 in damages and were forced to pay $18M in costs [broadbandtvnews.com], but when has the outcome of a court-case been as sensational as exposés? Strange that the BBC/guardian articles about this fail to mention the court cases that have been ongoing for a decade.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure the people who have been discussing this for years are not surprised by the phone hacking scandal, which is like comparing pre-school with ... electron microscope school?

      This.

      The boring story is about Murdoch's recent scandals. The interesting story is what, if any, complicity there was between two competing businesses, using the reverse-engineers as pawns (and whether or not the reversers knew they were pawns!) in a much larger chess game.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:18AM (#39481625)
    News Corp already has a track record of computer crime in the US in 2004.

    News America Marketing, the division of News Corp. that was going head-to-head with Floorgraphics, later admitted that someone in its office had illicitly accessed its competitor’s password-protected website. But an internal investigation, as well as subsequent probes by the FBI and the Secret Service, failed to pinpoint the person responsible.

    Years later, after Floorgraphics’ lawsuit against News Corp. was settled and Henderson had received what he called a handsome exit payout, he openly talked about getting a peek at Floorgraphics’ forthcoming ad campaigns. Henderson’s co-workers didn't always know how much faith to put in their boss’s claims, but he certainly wasn’t one to mince words.

    “He admitted he had information from inside Floorgraphics’ computer system. He knew how to get into their passwords,” one former News America staffer told New York. "He said he had the blessings of his bosses."

    This incident followed the same pattern as the News of the World phone hacking scandal. An overly aggressive manager broke the law and was rewarded, and News Corp crushed the competition. When the bad deeds were found out the internal investigation was a joke:

    As for News Corp.’s internal investigation, he concluded that it “falls far short of any standards in this area." The company made a cursory check of Henderson’s e-mail — “The only search conducted was a limited Outlook 'find' command" — but Cats concluded the company never interviewed Henderson or any other employees. Nor did it preserve a record of the investigation.

    Then for some strange reason when the authorities investigate they decide not to press criminal charges (can you say political pressure, i knew you could). In the final stage, there is a civil case and it is settled out of court. In this case the total payout was $650 million. Note this figure includes some other wrongdoing besides the Floorgraphics case.

    This is exactly what happened in the News of the World scandal, until The Guardian newspaper in England did some investigation and found out how massive the phone hacking was. Given these two cases, one in the US and one in the UK, what are the odds that News Corp is blameless in this situation.

  • Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    Who's the biggest crook of all?
    • by bfandreas (603438)
      A mirror is the last object I would consult on these matters. It is bound to go horribly wrong.

      Besides, we've got TV for that nowadays. With a little bit of luck, although it is quite unlikely, you may get a glimpse of him. For some reason news programmes don't show true crooks anymore even if that is what they were created for.

      So you might actually be onto something with your mirror method. At least in one case it is bound to give the right information.
  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:12AM (#39481799)
    If you're a big corporation, piracy is a Good Thing, especially if it takes down a rival corporation.

    But if you or I download 1 song 'illegally', it's 250,000 in fines and five years in pound-them-in-the-ass prison.

    Have I got this right?
    • by damburger (981828)

      Yep

      They draw up a definition of property that is enitirely contrary to common sense, and use it as a pretext to brutalise people in the name of sticking up for their 'rights'

  • by RelaxedTension (914174) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:14AM (#39481807)
    There is clear signs of piracy, that was intentional. Close down ALL of it, all the newspapers, the tv stations, everything, and sort it out in court first.

    Thats what they did to Megaupload, fair is fair.
    • by jpapon (1877296)
      I like the idea, but in practice you would be punishing thousands (tens of thousands?) of people who had nothing to do with this.
    • by blarkon (1712194)
      I'm confused. I thought piracy never hurt anyone. How could someone go out of business because of it? Stupid cognitive dissonance!
      • by bfandreas (603438)
        No, in this case something we hold dear to our heart was touched indecently by Rupert Murdoch. If you look at it from this angle then it is a case of molestation and that's why we are up in arms.
        WILL YOU NOT THINK OF THE ARRRRR?
      • I'm confused. I thought piracy never hurt anyone. How could someone go out of business because of it? Stupid cognitive dissonance!

        Consumers steal; corporations just look after their investors' interests.

    • There is clear signs of piracy, that was intentional. Close down ALL of it, all the newspapers, the tv stations, everything, and sort it out in court first.

      <sarcasm>
      I'm confused... Legions upon legions of Slashdot readers have conclusively shown during endless discussions over the last few years that piracy in general is a completely victimless activity. Ergo: ITV is just whining about nothing and whatever Murdoch's corporate goons did in terms of piracy cannot possibly have caused any economic harm to ITV Digital in any way shape or form. This should be a slam dunk case, just get our resident experts in the economics of digital piracy to testify on beha

  • Seriously, there is a lot of evidence that the system is being gamed to simply keep the falling companies on top. Murdoch is just one. The labels are right up there as well. No doubt if we look, we will find the *IAA's are up to their own BS as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:45AM (#39482711)

    What's it like where money matters above all else, nepotism abounds and professional ambition transcends all known ethics? Let me tell you.

    I've been an employee of NewsCorp for the last 4-5 years. I stay with them because they offer the best compensation in my field, security in this recession, and yet we have our differences. On many occasions I've defended my employer and media outlets, mainly Fox News by saying, "I may not agree with the narrative but no one can say it's not a commercial success." Each business unit only worries about the bottom line, and not a soul has the well being of the U.S. and it's future in mind. Now it's starting to bother me.

    Rupert Murdoch may be more feared by his employees than Steve Jobs ever was. Instead of a razor sharp focus on perfection and simplicity, Murdoch works his media holdings like a venture capitalist, his political influence like the dirtiest lobbyist, and just doesn't seem to 'get' the web and social media. This old-fashioned media tycoon acquires, prunes and drives companies and their talent to exact his will.

    The pressure on his people shows. Employing very creative accounting (tax havens), phone hacking and leveraging threats of media smear campaigns, NewsCorp employees cross ethical boundaries more often than Rupert crosses time zones. It's no secret he enjoys the power he wields. On the editorial conferences he attends, on the way he treats political enemies, competitors and anyone else that dare disagree, it is striking from the inside.

    Rupert has always shown his considerable ego, from the (good for all of the British press) breaking of the print unions in Wapping to his new rambling outlet, Twitter (@rupertmurdoch) . This 80 year old man tweets solo from his iPad, attacking Google, President Obama and others, all the while disregarding his plethora of Lawyers, PR entourage and social media experts. But that's the thing. He doesn't care. He's an old, angry, ballsy billionaire with mostly incompetent, disappointing children who is set on nothing more than doing what he and he alone wants for the rest of his life. I would say his tireless work has earned him that privilege if his empire wasn't pro-SOPA, against LGBT and other rights, constantly polarizing America and driving the Republican Party farther right than I ever predicted. The national dialogue has turned into a screaming match and I know who to thank.

    With Roger Ailes as his Dick Cheney, Murdoch has incredible control over conservatives. 'Fair and Balanced' stopped being a funny joke years ago. I never thought I would live in a country where science was laughed at on the news, calling the sitting President a Communist was acceptable, or where a GOP candidate has no chance without the backing of Ailes, Czar of Fox News.

    This might be the future, where only money matters, your voicemail isn't safe and anything can happen when dirty police officers get their take. It might be, but I don't like it.

  • All I can think of is how in 1577 Queen Elizabeth gave financial backing to pirates in the Caribbean to break the Spanish hold in the area at the same time publicly being very against the whole idea (why yes you would be hanged as a pirate if you were caught without the secret papers). This is not any different (well except that in this case no one was actually hung). It does put a different view on everything overall how a large company actually can benefit from some well placed and promoted piracy.

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