Harvey Silverglate’s Thoughts on the MBTA Mess

August 22, 2008

As Robert reported on Tuesday, a federal judge in Boston finally lifted the restraining order granted to the MBTA to silence a presentation to be given by three MIT students at this year’s DEFCON hackers’ convention. On Wednesday, FIRE Co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate weighed in on this welcome, if tardy, development in the Boston Phoenix. He notes the remarkably high standards the Supreme Court has set regarding the permissibility of prior restraint, under which they could not even justify halting the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Harvey (who also has an editorial on the subject in last Saturday’s Boston Globe) is aghast at the low standard the MBTA set, and briefly got away with, in preventing the MIT students from exposing weaknesses in their Charlie Card system. He writes, "[h]ow, until Tuesday, it was deemed lawful to prohibit speech when the only thing at stake was the MBTA’s possible loss of revenue, has left First Amendment advocates scratching their heads."

Be sure to read the full text of Harvey’s piece, as well as the rest of FIRE’s coverage of the incident.