Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In Review...Exhibit A: A Person, Exhibit B, A Computer...

U. S. District Judge George O'Toole is allowing three MIT students, who want to discuss the vulnerabilities in the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's subway card system, to do so, and he has allowed the TRO imposed 10 days ago to expire. Judge O'Toole says he doesn't think that the MIT student presentation is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Instead it's just a "person to person talk." In order to be a violation of the statute, it would have to be a computer to computer communication. The judge based his decision on a close reading of the statute. Obviously the MBTA could appeal, but its lawyers have indicated that their main concern is to avoid widespread abuse of the transit system. Read more here in a CNET news story, here in a Chronicle update, and here in a press release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which provided legal assistance for the MIT students. Here's a link to documents in the case, courtesy of the EFF.

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