Flavio Garcia, a computer science lecturer at the University of Birmingham, along with his two colleagues, Baris Ege and Roel Verdult from the Katholieke Universiteit in Netherlands, received an court injunction after discovering and willing to publish, at the well-respected Usenix Security Symposium in Washington DC in August, the complex and unique algorithm allowing luxury cars, including Porsches, Bentleys and Lamborghinis, to recognize ignition key and thus, start the engine without problems.
The injunction bans the three scientists from publishing their paper and was initiated by the owner of these luxury brands, Volkswagen, which assured that it would lead to the theft of millions of vehicles and not only for their own brands, since the algorithm is also used by many other car manufacturers.
Volkswagen had asked them to publish a redacted version of their paper without the codes which has been declined by the three colleagues.
They claimed that they were only doing responsible academic work. Indeed, the software code has been available on the internet since 2009 and they decided for security issues to hack and reveal publicly the algorithm used on their luxury cars, in order to make them know the security weaknesses of the cars on which they rely rather than ease car thefts.
The judgment was handed down few weeks ago and raised a question: what data and details can academics give in their publications?