John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Def Con Hacking Conference Invites Feds to Stay Away This Year

GET_OUTIntroducing National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander as the keynote speaker at the Def Con hacking conference last year, event organizer Jeff Moss said he had spent 20 years trying to get someone from the agency to speak. This year he would prefer that they not speak at all.

Following Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks detailing U.S. electronic surveillance, the agency and government officials in general have been politely disinvited from the event. In an announcement entitled “Feds, We Need Some Time Apart,” Moss, who goes by the alias The Dark Tangent, said he thought it would be best if the government sat out this year’s conference.

“When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship,” Moss wrote. “Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a ‘time-out’ and not attend DEF CON this year. This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next.”

This is the first time ever that Moss has made such a request. Typically, representatives from the NSA, Department of Homeland Security and other related agencies have been welcome at Def Con. But, given the tensions over the Snowden debacle, putting a bit of distance between the feds and the InfoSec community that shows up for Def Con might be a wise move.

That said, there are those who disagree. Among them, OpenStack developer Matt Joyce, who argues that this sort of community balkanization is a bad idea:

We’re hackers. All of us. Fed, State, Non-profit, Money loving entrepreneurs, we’re all hackers. That has always been one great defining aspect of our community. Def Con has been one of the most successful commons of the people who wear the moniker of ‘hacker’ proudly. It truly is a place where people of every background can meet, exchange ideas, and grow as hackers, and as people. And suggestions that some part of that greater community should simply excise itself is a betrayal of everything that Def Con has become over its 20 plus years.


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