Friday, August 15, 2008

Transit agency wants MIT students to stay gagged

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is providing legal defense for three MIT students prohibited from discussing vulnerabilities they discovered in subway card security by an order given to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority by a District Court Judge.

The EFF has enlisted some high-profile academics, including UC Berkeley's David Wagner, to strengthen the case that the restraining order is antithetical to security research.

Security researchers are watching this case carefully because it could ultimately set a precedent weighing First Amendment rights to publish freely against a vendor's desire to keep embarrassing and potentially explosive details secret.

Prof. Wagner and several other high-profile academics have signed a letter to the judge on Monday that says:
We are concerned that the pall cast by the temporary restraining order will stifle research efforts and weaken academic computing research programs. In turn, we fear the shadow of the law's ambiguities will reduce our ability to contribute to industrial research in security technologies at the heart of our information infrastructure. We urge that you reconsider and remove the temporary restraining order issued on August 10, 2008.
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