the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity.

New Jersey’s Attorney General issue subpoena to MIT students.

Posted on | March 15, 2014 | Comments Off on New Jersey’s Attorney General issue subpoena to MIT students.

TITLE: New Jersey’s Attorney General issues subpoena to MIT students.

This is a story we should pay attention to for a couple of reasons.

The first is the chilling effect this will have on the Computer Science students at MIT who are working on the project they call “Tidbit”, but just as important is the effect this will have on other students exploring creative ideas all over our country. The MIT students were served a subpoena just prior to their finals. A tough time to have to balance attention between school and lawsuits.

The software “Tidbit” is looked at by its developers as an alternative to advertising on the Web, something that a lot of folks might like to have available as a option. It involves trading some local cpu cycles to mine Bitcoins in place of receiving advertisements when browsing a web site that offers this feature.

The attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who are contributing their expertise to defend the students, feel that the sate of New Jersey has no personal jurisdiction over Tidbit, which has had no direct involvement in New Jersey. To paraphrase, New Jersey is in New Jersey, the developer is not a resident of New Jersey, and MIT is in Massachusetts. The courts will argue this out, spending the good people of New Jersey’s tax dollars. Probably better spent doing something useful.

The second issue that is just as concerning, if not more so, is the lack of understanding that some parts of our government have when it comes to how modern technology actually works. There seems to be a gulf between their ideas and reality, and though I hope officials involved have the best interests of the citizens in mind, many times poor decisions are made based on that disconnection.

Keep in mind – this software is only in the ‘proof of concept’ stage. No one has ever used this software to mine any kind of virtual currency. It’s not even in beta. It’s not a product. It’s an exploration of an idea. Something that we should support, not hinder.

Please read the letter from President L. Reif of MIT to the alumni of MIT concerning this matter. Read some articles, write us a note. This is an important conversation.


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