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posted by Dopefish on Monday February 17 2014, @02:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the government-should-mind-their-own-business dept.
mattie_p writes "MIT students won a hackathon last November with a non-functioning demo of Tidbit. The concept is to replace web advertising revenue with a tiny amount of Bitcoin mining on the user's browser. Out of the blue, the students were hit by a subpoena from the New Jersey Attorney General demanding that the founders 'turn over sensitive information including source codes, hosting websites, and all of the Bitcoin wallet addresses associated with Tidbit.'

At first MIT council referred the students to legal assistance from the EFF, who quickly came to their defense. Now there is a petition going around requesting the MIT administration support the students directly. Parallels are being drawn to Aaron Swartz, possibly because one of the authors of the recent petition is Prof. Hal Ableson, although details of the two cases have very little in common.

MIT President Reif has now come out strongly in support of the students--and in favor of academic freedom from interference by government."
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by isaac on Monday February 17 2014, @02:23PM

    by isaac (500) on Monday February 17 2014, @02:23PM (#714)

    Can anyone else explain what's going on with this case? The article doesn't say much about why the Tidbit folks are being subpoenaed, except that "out-of-state authorities ... were concerned Tidbit may have breached the security of people's computers through unauthorized access." Why on earth would they think that?

    FTA: "'[New Jersey] recently used consumer protection laws to secure a $1 million settlement from a gambling website that turned its users’ computers into a botnet to mine for Bitcoins without the users’ knowledge,' wrote Fakhoury. 'It appears the state suspects Tidbit of something similar here, despite the fact Tidbit’s code was only a proof of concept that could not mine for Bitcoins, and despite the fact Tidbit was clearly not planning to develop code that mined without a user’s knowledge and consent.'"

    Someone got wind of Tidbit in the NJ AG's office and smelled another potential settlement.

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  • (Score: 1) by isaac on Monday February 17 2014, @02:26PM

    by isaac (500) on Monday February 17 2014, @02:26PM (#721)

    Blech, smartpostrophes pasted in look like garbage - and the "Slow Down Cowboy" threshold is a bit aggressive.

    • (Score: 1) by Wodan on Monday February 17 2014, @02:29PM

      by Wodan (517) on Monday February 17 2014, @02:29PM (#730)

      Guess the utf-8 support isn't entirely there yet, but at least they're trying!

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by weilawei on Monday February 17 2014, @07:09PM

    by weilawei (109) on Monday February 17 2014, @07:09PM (#952)
    This looks a lot like straight-up extortion. I'm STILL failing to see any illegal activity in this...