Phi Beta Cons

Fare/Fair-Beating MIT Students

Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students recently were stopped by a federal judge from showing freeloaders how to avoid subway fare in Boston. The New York Post reports that the students:

had been scheduled to detail security vulnerabilities they discovered with Boston’s fare-card system at a hacker’s conference in Las Vegas …
the eggheads [wanted to disclose] a formula for what is basically the electronic equivalent of jumping a turnstile.
The injunction left it unclear if hackers could get free rides in New York, where straphangers use magnetic strip MetroCards similar to fare cards in Boston …
A description of the scheduled panel began with the line that would make any transit executive reach for the emergency brake: “Want free subway rides for life?”
The students … had also planned to release card-hacking software they had created.

The students said they “were very, very surprised” about the ruling. Apparently they have not considered the meaning of ripping off those who pay dearly for subway and other public services. 

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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