Def Con founder says people need “time to think about how we got here” after Edward Snowden revelations
The organisers of next month’s Def Con security conference have told Federal government authorities to stay away, due to recent revelations about mass surveillance carried out by US authorities.
Def Con normally plays host to hackers and federal agents alike but this year, founder Jeff Moss said the relationship between government officials and the general security community had been damaged by the leaks of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden revealed the PRISM programme, which amasses data on people directly from technology companies, and widespread surveillance by intelligence agencies across the globe.
“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,” Moss said.
“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.”
Def Con, founded in 1993, will kick off on 2 August in Las Vegas and will see hackers come together to show off exploits and talk about the latest developments in security.
Federal agents had previously attended, due to their interest in protecting and attacking systems. Moss himself is an advisor on cyber security to the US Department of Homeland Security.
General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, was one of the keynote speakers at last year’s event, where he denied any widespread snooping on US citizens.
That claim is now certainly open to dispute – and will be examined when Alexander speaks at a different event – the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas the week before Def Con.
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