MIT Student Censorship by Boston MBTA Continues

By August 18, 2008

Last week I blogged about the story of three MIT students who saw themselves gagged by the court after the MBTA, Boston’s public transit agency, sued for a temporary restraining order to keep them from discussing vulnerabilities in the agency’s payment system at the Defcon hackers’ conference. While the conference is now over, last Thursday, Judge George O’Toole continued the injunction until at least tomorrow, when hearings will resume.

It’s unfortunate that this instance of unconstitutional censorship as yet shows no signs of abating. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), though, is representing the students and is working hard to get the order lifted. FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate wrote about the MBTA’s poor handling of this situation in The Boston Globe over the weekend, emphasizing []the agency’s ludicrous assertion that the students’ exposure of flaws in the subway’s fare collection system somehow compromises national security. The Boston Globe editorial board also criticized the agency, writing, "the MBTA should recognize that security flaws are a design problem, not a legal one." Let’s hope that tomorrow’s proceedings result in the end of this episode of unconstitutional prior restraint of speech.