Last week, we covered a controversial proof-of-concept for cryptocurrency mining developed by Tidbit in a recent MIT competition and its subsequent legal struggles with authorities in New Jersey.
The MIT News office released a letter yesterday from President L. Rafael Reif, where he expressed his support for the students behind Tidbit:
“I am grateful to all those who have written to me to express their concern about this situation, and I want to make it clear that the students who created Tidbit have the full and enthusiastic support of MIT. Chancellor Cindy Barnhart and Provost Marty Schmidt met with the students yesterday. They and General Counsel Greg Morgan also spoke with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is providing to the students, pro bono, the independent legal representation that they need. We will remain in close coordination with the students and the EFF to offer assistance in the legal proceedings.”
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Reif sympathized with the students from the competition, referring to the demands from the State Attorney General of New Jersey as “a surprising and difficult turn of events for the Tidbit team.”
He also expressed the need to have devoted legal resources for student inventors and entrepreneurs, “which will add an essential new strength to MIT’s innovation ecosystem.”
Reif stopped short of any criticism, expression of caution or any hints for improvement with respect to Tidbit, at least publicly.
Reif’s letter to the MIT community comes in response to an open letter calling for more support from the university on the Tidbit matter, circulated online Thursday. It calls the subpoena from New Jersey “an affront to our academic freedom” and argues that it will have “a chilling effect on MIT teaching and research.” The letter was signed by more than 500 MIT affiliates.