Blown To Bits

MIT Students are Free to Talk …

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

… but they still face trial, as things stand.

Judge George O’Toole, Jr., not the judge who imposed the gag order on the MIT students who intended to present their research about security problems of the MBTA’s fare system, has allowed that order to expire (CNET story here). The judge did not rule on First Amendment Grounds. He simply decided (correctly) that one of the legal conditions justifying the imposition of the TRO had not been met. To wit: He doubted that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which the students were charged of violating, actually applied to the oral and written communication of research results between human beings. (The law actually governs sending codes to a computer for fraudulent reasons.) The MBTA also failed to show that the students had actually cost it any money.

The MBTA is thinking about what to do. As we argued earlier, they should tend to their business and stop trying to criminalize the messenger.

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