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20 August 2008, 08:58

MIT students unmuzzled

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A US federal judge has lifted the restraining order on three MIT students who had been placed under it to prevent them talking publicly about security flaws in the Boston public transport system. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, MBTA, had requested a five month injunction to follow on from the temprorary injunction which stopped the students discussing their work at DefCon 16.

The MBTA has said it plan to continue its lawsuit against MIT and the three undergraduates, claiming the students violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse act. The judge, in dissolving the gag order, agreed with the students' attorney that the act in question was aimed at preventing the transmission of viruses and worms, not to stop information being given to an audience during a speech.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation who are representing the students said they it was pleased with court's decision. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said "The MBTA's attempts to silence these students were not only misguided, but blatantly unconstitutional."

MBTA attorney Ieuan Mahony said the MBTA wanted the students to refrain from publishing details of the security problems until it can fix the problem. The MBTA had estimated that this would take five months, but Mahony added that MBTA still wants to get more information on how the students cloned the CharlieTicket, a magnetic stripe paper ticket, which was compromised as part of the research.


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