SRSLY, We *Heart* MIT

21, the celebration of MIT geeks based on Ben Mezrich’s novel was the highest grossing movie in the country this weekend. While millions of Americans were watching Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth wear fun costumes, another made-for-Hollywood story from MIT was making news.

1206977821The latest scandal is less Oceans 11 and more All the President’s Men. An MIT doctoral student has been subpoenaed by the New York City Police Department for information about TXTmob, a service that is like an internet bulletin board, but instead of checking your email to get the latest communication you send and receive text messages. The service was used by protesters during the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and the NYPD wants to know who was using it.

Our new hero, TXTmob developer Tad Hirsch, won’t cave in to The Man and has refused to turn over the servers that relayed messages that kept demonstrators, journalists, and possibly police officers in the know about where protests would be most effective.

“There’s a principle at stake here,” he said recently by telephone. “I think I have a moral responsibility to the people who use my service to protect their privacy.”

See? That’s the way to stand up for First Amendment rights, Star Simpson and Peter Berdovsky.