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Texas Instruments signing key controversy: Wikis


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A TI-83+ graphing calculator

The Texas Instruments signing key controversy refers to the controversy which resulted from Texas Instruments' response to a project to reverse engineer the 512-bit RSA cryptographic keys needed to write custom firmware to TI devices.[1]



In 2009, a group of hackers used brute force and distributed methods to find all of the cryptographic signing keys for a variety of Texas Instruments calculators, allowing users to flash their own operating systems directly to the devices.[2] The key for the TI-83+ calculator was first published by a United-TI forum user, who needed several months to crack it. The other keys were found after a few weeks by the TI calculator community through a distributed computing project. After factoring the public keys, many members who had participated in the projects moved on to various other integer factorization efforts.

Legal response

Texas Instruments then began sending out DMCA take-down requests to a variety[3] of different websites displaying the keys, including United-TI, reddit[4] and Wikipedia. The hackers responded by removing the keys, without even first consulting an attorney.[5] Texas Instruments' efforts then became subject to the Streisand effect,[6] and the keys were mirrored on a number of different sites, including Wikileaks and WordPress. In September 2009, Dan Goodin from The Register alerted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to TI's actions, and the EFF agreed to take on the case, representing three people who had received DMCA notices. On 13 October 2009, the EFF sent a letter to TI warning them that the posting of the keys did not violate the DMCA, and that it may be liable for misrepresentation.[7] Despite this, TI continued to send DMCA notices to websites that post the keys, but they (TI) stopped doing so after late 2009. One of the three people represented by the EFF has filed a DMCA Section 512 counter-notice, but he has not received a response.[8]

See also




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