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EFF Urges Judge to Lift Gag Order on MIT Students
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 11:39:57 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: EFF Press <press () eff org>
Date: August 13, 2008 11:31:43 AM EDT
To: presslist () eff org
Subject: [E-B] EFF Urges Judge to Lift Gag Order on MIT Students
Reply-To: press () eff org

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
  Media Coordinator
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  press () eff org
  +1 415 436-9333 x125

EFF Urges Judge to Lift Gag Order on MIT Students

Thursday Hearing Set on Temporary Restraining Order

Boston - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a
federal judge Tuesday to lift an unconstitutional gag order
issued to three students at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) whose academic research uncovered
vulnerabilities in Boston's transit fare payment system.

A hearing on the temporary restraining order is set for
11am Thursday at the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts in Boston.

The students -- Zack Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro
Chiesa -- would like to resolve this dispute amicably with
the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA).  However,
it has been hard to find an amicable resolution when the
students are the subjects of a vigorous lawsuit and under
the restrictions of a temporary restraining order.  This
remains true even though the MBTA filed a motion earlier
this week to modify the restraining order to only prohibit
disclosure of "non-public" information.

"We appreciate the gesture," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia
Hofmann.  "But it does not resolve the dispute.  Indeed, we
would hope everyone acknowledges that it is impermissible
under the Constitution for a court to order someone not to
repeat publicly available truthful information."

"The restraining order, even if modified, remains an
improper prior restraint restricting speech," said EFF
Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick.  "The First
Amendment does not allow people to be silenced because
their speech exposes flaws, even if those flaws might
someday be illegally misused by others.  To protect our
clients' rights, we had no choice but to ask the court to
reconsider the gag order."

As part of EFF's court filing Tuesday, 11 computer
scientists and researchers from the nation's top research
and educational institutions submitted a letter in support
of the MIT students, including Professor Dave Farber of
Carnegie Mellon, Professor Steve Bellovin of Columbia
University, and computer security expert Bruce Schneier.
The group explained that security research and information
are critical for scientific advancement, and stated that
restraining orders such as the one issued by the court over
the weekend could have a devastating chilling effect on
future academic endeavors.

"The students' ultimate goal in the security research was
to help the MBTA improve its security," said EFF Senior
Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.  "Despite colorful marketing
rhetoric advertising a presentation of the students' work
at a security conference, the students never intended to
provide sufficient information to the public to replicate
the attack."

For more details on Thursday's hearing, contact
press () eff org
For the full motion to reconsider:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/MBTA_v_Anderson/studentresponse081208.pdf

For the full letter from the computer scientists and
researchers:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/MBTA_v_Anderson/letter081208.pdf

For more on MBTA v. Anderson:
http://www.eff.org/cases/mbta-v-anderson

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2008/08/13

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported
organization and maintains one of the most linked-to
websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/


    -end-

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