Friday, July 12, 2013

For the first time, feds unwelcome at annual DEF CON hacker conference

In obvious fallout over the NSA domestic spying programs leaked by Edward Snowden, for the first time ever, federal agencies have been asked to sit out this year's DEF CON hacker conference. The "request" came via a blog post on the conference's website, posted on Wednesday night.

Writing as "The Dark Tangent," Jeff Moss, the founder of the Black Hat and DEF CON computer hacker conferences, said:
Feds, we need some time apart.

For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory. Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect.

When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship. 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.

The Dark Tangent
U.S. Defense Department Director Jim Christy has been attending the event since 1999 (the first DEF CON took place in June of 1993). Christy would attend the conference in an open attempt to attract hacker talent to federal and military agencies.

In a sense, that was successful in a big way, as founder Moss joined the Homeland Security Advisory Council in 2009. Members advised Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on matters regarding computer security.

Ironically, at DEF CON 2012, NSA Director General Keith Alexander gave the keynote address, which was the highest-level appearance at DEF CON by a U.S. government official.

DEF CON is scheduled to run from Aug. 1 through Aug. 4 this year in Las Vegas. The event has become famous for its annual "spot the fed" contest, as many government representatives prefer to attend incognito.

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