Apple executives weren’t the only ones who didn’t go through with a presentation at a Las Vegas conference this week: A federal judge in Massachusetts issued a restraining order against 3 MIT students who were going to tell hackers how they could get themselves free rides on the Boston subway system.
The students were expected to give a talk Sunday at the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas. Their 87-page presentation, “Anatomy of a Subway Hack,” promises, among other things, to teach how to generate stored-value fare cards. (The MIT student newspaper has posted the slides and other related documents.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, not surprisingly, didn’t care for their research. It filed a suit, naming not only the students but the university and Ronald Rivest, a prominent computer-security researcher who supervised their work.
The MBTA’s legal papers argue that the student’s behaviour violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and that one of its fare cards “constitute a computer,” within the meaning of the law. The MBTA argued for a restraining order, in part, because the students caused damage that “constitutes a threat to public health or safety,” and “affects a computer system used by a government agency for national security purposes,” citing the role of the MTBA in Homeland Security efforts.
The students tried placating the MBTA by arguing that they weren’t really going to show people how to hack the system — more of a general discussion, really. And they amended their pitch, as well:
Strangely, this didn’t seem to satisfy the MBTA, or the court. But as just about everyone has already noted, the fact that the MIT kids speak yesterday didn’t prevent them from conveying their information. Text of the presentation — and more important, information about the MIFARE hack — is available via a rudimentary Google search. Complete text of complaint below:
See Also: Apple Pulls Out Of Hacker Conference
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