What really happened to the Mythbusters RFID special?

Last July, Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage brazenly told The Last HOPE attendees that credit card lawyers killed a special on RFID’s hackability early in the production process. The story lied dormant on the internet for a little over a month, then sometime last week it was picked up by bloggers and blasted all over the ‘net en masse.  Now, however, it appears that Savage is backing down on his original account: both he and a variety of other sources claim that the details are, well, embellished.

These are his original statements, which I transcribed earlier this week from his now-famous YouTube video:

“I’m not sure how much of this story I’m allowed to tell,” he says nervously. “Texas Instruments comes on along with chief legal counsel for American Express, Visa, Discover, and everybody else...”

At this point, the audience lets out a muted laughter. “[Our team was] way, way outgunned and they absolutely made it really clear to [show owner] Discovery that they were not going to air this episode talking about how hackable [RFID] was, and Discovery backed way down being a large corporation that depends upon the revenue of the advertisers. Now it's on Discovery's radar and they won't let us go near it.”

It didn’t exactly go down like that, says Texas Instruments spokeswoman Cindy Huff, speaking in a statement to CNET:

“Some of the information that was needed … required further support from the [credit card] companies. To move the process along, Texas Instruments coordinated a conversation with Smart Card Alliance (SCA) who invited MasterCard and Visa, on contactless payments to help MythBusters get the right information. Of the handful of people on the call, there were mostly product managers and only one contactless payment company's legal counsel member. Technical questions were asked and answered and we were to wait for MythBusters to let us know when they were planning on showing the segment. A few weeks later, Texas Instruments was told by MythBusters that the storyline had changed and they were pursuing a different angle which did not require our help.”

Now, according to CNET, even Savage says he fudged the details a bit.

“There's been a lot of talk about this RFID thing, and I have to admit that I got some of my facts wrong, as I wasn't on that story, and as I said on the video, I wasn't actually in on the call,” said Savage in a statement. “Texas Instruments' account of their call with Grant and our producer is factually correct. If I went into the detail of exactly why this story didn't get filmed, it's so bizarre and convoluted that no one would believe me, but suffice to say ... the decision not to continue on with the RFID story was made by our production company, Beyond Productions, and had nothing to do with Discovery, or their ad sales department.”

Now, which version to believe? I’ve always felt that candid statements are more truthful than the verbal mush that comes out of corporate meat grinders, and logically it only makes sense to me that Savage was originally telling the truth. Why else would he make such inflammatory statements? I don’t know him personally, but judging by his demeanor on the podium I can conclude that either he was truly being honest up there, or he that is a highly skilled manipulator.

But then again, maybe part of me simply wants the original story to be true – it’s so much cooler in the first instance!

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
Related Articles

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki