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Bloggers behaving badly: Gizmodo messes with CES flat screens

Gizmodo crew goes wild with TV-B-Gone at CES.

The Gizmodo kids pulled a good stunt at CES: they fired TV-B-Gone remotes at walls of shiny new monitors on display and during press conferences, much to the displeasure of booth staffers.

No colors anymore. Gizmodo

The video is funny. The ramifications of prank will not be. The CES organizers only grudgingly gave bloggers press credentials to the conference, and even then kept them segregated into a working lounge that was a step down in amenity and luxuryfrom the "press" lounge and work area. This prank will not endear the blogging class to either the CEA, which produces CES, or the companies that paid dearly for the right to occupy CES floorspace and show off their products.

I would not be surprised to see Gizmodo banned from the show and possibly sued by either the CEA or the companies its bloggers harassed. For journalists (in my mind, all bloggers are journalists), legal and constitutional protection does not extend to mischief or sabotage. Publishing news reports, opinion, and satire are protected acts. Physical interference is not.

I asked Gizmodo publisher Nick Denton if he was going to fire the Gizmodo crew for their prank. "No," is all he said in an instant message. He did not reply to followup questions.

Gizmodo added this apology after the post first ran, but I don't think it will mollify the victims.

It was too much fun, but watching this video, we realize it probably made some people's jobs harder, and I don't agree with that (Especially Motorola). We're sorry.

There are other likely outcomes of the prank. From now on, no one with an infrared-controlled device at a tradeshow is going to leave it exposed. A few tabs of black electrical tape will thwart TV-B-Gones. Beyond that, as our security expert Robert Vamosi said about this incident, expect TV manufacturers to think seriously about building encryption into their remote controls.