Briefing papers

E-commerce and Data protection

Megamos Crypto, Responsible Disclosure, and the Chilling Effect of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft vs Garcia, et al


Robert Carolina
Kenneth G. Paterson

Summary

The recent decision of the English High Court to censor the publication of an academic paper describing weaknesses in the Megamos Crypto automobile immobiliser system raises a number of concerns for members of the cryptographic academic community, legal practitioners, and commercial users of cryptographic products.

In this paper we will provide a brief description of the technology at the heart of the dispute, the crypto research project, the court’s decision, and then provide a critique of the decision and make observations about its potential impact.

Our description and our observations are based on evidence as it was disclosed in the published decision of the court. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft vs Garcia, et al, [2013] EWHC 1832 (Ch) (25 June 2013). This decision addressed a request for preliminary injunction pending a full trial on the merits. It remains possible that additional evidence introduced later, or existing evidence that has not been disclosed in the decision, could have a significant impact upon the observations and opinions presented here. We do not take any position, nor do we make any prediction, about the ultimate outcome of this case.