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Sophomore lawyers up after getting subpoenaed for Bitcoin project details

Jeremy L. Rubin ’16 has sought help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation after receiving requests from the New Jersey attorney general’s office for documents and code related to a hackathon project he worked on with three other MIT students.

The project, Tidbit, was a project intended to help websites make money without ads by running Bitcoin-mining code within users’ browsers. The project won Rubin, Kevin C. King ’14, Oliver R. Song ’14, and Carolyn Zhang ’14 an award for innovation in the Node Knockout competition in November.

An attorney from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for digital rights, argued that the state of New Jersey has no jurisdiction over Tidbit and asked that Rubin be granted immunity from prosecution under the Fifth Amendment, should the subpoena stand. The attorney also said that Tidbit was a proof-of-concept that did not actually mine Bitcoins yet.

The New Jersey attorney general’s office responded, saying that they were trying to determine whether Tidbit violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and that the subpoena was authorized since Tidbit could affect New Jersey consumers.

The Tech will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Applicants receive email falsely stating they were admitted to MIT

According to the MIT Admissions blog, an email about financial aid, sent both to students admitted early and to current applicants, included the line “You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT!” in its footer.

In the blog post, the Admissions Office’s Chris Peterson SM ’13 apologized, saying that when he was applying for colleges, he was hurt after receiving a letter from a college that got his name wrong. “[It] crushes — crushes — me to think that I might have unintentionally inflicted something similar on some of you,” he wrote.

Peterson said the mistake arose from “an (apparently) undocumented side-effect” of merging mailing lists in MailChimp, an email marketing service.

He said he was unaware of mistake until he saw a thread about it on College Confidential, a forum for students applying to colleges.

“I’m not sure what it means. We could always hope right!!” one user wrote. Several others suspected it was a joke; another said it might be an error.

Peterson eventually posted a clarification in the thread. “I hope you’ll forgive me,” he said.

Draft report released on graduate student housing needs

A group charged last year with reporting on graduate student housing needs released a draft report Tuesday recommending building housing for 500-600 students. The draft report also made recommendations for creating approximately 400 beds “to meet swing-space needs over the course of the next decade.” The report was first commissioned by Provost Martin A. Schmidt PhD ‘88 to the Graduate Student House Working Group. The committee was asked to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current housing situation and recommending ways to better improve housing.

The final report will be released in mid-spring. Schmidt, along with the new Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ‘88 and the Executive Vice President Israel Ruiz SM ‘01, will issue a response to the upcoming report once it has released.

—Leon Lin and Tushar Kamath