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Researchers Now Pulling Out of DEF CON In Response To Anti-Fed Position 204

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-the-tsa-gives-free-massages dept.
darthcamaro writes "Earlier today it, Slashdot had a story about DEF CON's position on not allowing U.S. Federal agents to attend the annual hacking conference. We're now starting to see the backlash from the hacker community itself with at least two well respected hackers pulling out of the DEF CON speaking sessions so far: "'The issue we are struggling with, and the basis of our decision, is that we feel strongly that DEF CON has always presented a neutral ground that encouraged open communication among the community, despite the industry background and diversity of motives to attend,' security researcher Kevin Johnson wrote. 'We believe the exclusion of the "feds" this year does the exact opposite at a critical time.'" Meanwhile, Black Hat welcomes Federal attendees; this year's conference will feature as a speaker former NSA head Keith Alexander.
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Researchers Now Pulling Out of DEF CON In Response To Anti-Fed Position

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  • Fuck 'em (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:57PM (#44256181)

    It's time the entire populace stand up and tell the federal government to go fuck itself. If these researchers want to take the wrong side in this fight, let them.

  • Good luck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:05PM (#44256261)

    Door, arse, etc.

  • Neutral vs. naive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:05PM (#44256263) Homepage

    It's one thing to be neutral towards those who are vaguely threatening, but it's simply naive to be neutral towards those who are actively undermining you.

  • by techsoldaten (309296) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:07PM (#44256283) Journal

    I can't speak for the people who have chosen not to participate or their reasons for doing so.

    I am sure it will be a loss for the event, but not as much as the one that comes from the lack of a public dialogue about the government's actions and activities tracking internet traffic.

    Saying that Defcon fosters an open community where there are no sides is a little misleading. The government has it's own reasons for showing up and they are not all related to sharing ideas, learning and having a good time. It's just the other people who really lack an agenda.

    I know people who are not going to Blackhat because the NSA is giving the keynote. What kind of strange alternate future is it we live in where this even happens?

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sabri (584428) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:15PM (#44256369)

    If these researchers want to take the wrong side in this fight, let them.

    Why does everything always have to be a "them against us" when it comes to these types of debates. I am in no way affiliated to any government organization, and I definitely do not like government intrusion in my private life. However, government security is as much in my interest as in theirs. Afterall, if they do legally obtain some of my private information for whatever reason, I'd sleep a lot better knowing that at least it will be safe from some 12 year old Chinese hacker.

    Or perhaps it will take an asteroid hurdling towards Earth for you to side with "the feds" and work together on a solution?

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:19PM (#44256401)

    It's time the entire populace stand up and tell the federal government to go fuck itself.

    Polls show that most people think Snowden was a criminal, and that the NSA is keeping us safe. Excluding and isolating your opponents is often a good strategy when you are winning. But privacy advocates are not winning. They are losing. In this battle for hearts and minds, engagement may be a better strategy.

    If these researchers want to take the wrong side in this fight, let them.

    They are not taking a side. They are disagreeing on means, not ends.

  • Safety issue! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omega Hacker (6676) <omega@omegacs.UMLAUTnet minus punct> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:26PM (#44256463)

    I honestly think there's a significant aspect to the move to "ban" Feds that people are overlooking: safety and liability. DEFCON gets a bit rowdy at the best of time, in the current climate re: PRISM, Snowden, etc. I seriously think the move will save a few bloody noses, possibly broken bones, and likely lawsuits and criminal charges stemming from the same. The conference also shields itself from the associated liability. A lot of people, especially in the hacker/DEFCON community, are *seriously* pissed at the US gov't right now, and that's gonna cause a lot more friction than normal.

  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:26PM (#44256469) Homepage

    I don't think the DEFCON organizers expect that /no/ government officials will make an appearance. Rather, they are making a statement that - because of recent revelations - they will no longer be offering an open hand to those officials. Furthermore, it might be unsafe (electronically, not physically) for agents to openly make an appearance because they will be more of a target for malicious hacking than usual.

    It's more along the lines of "We don't like what you are doing and therefore aren't being as welcoming to - and thus in complicit agreement with - you or your goals. Also, if you do come it's on your own head if bad things happen because you've managed to piss off all our other guests and many will consider you /persona non grata/ and take it upon themselves to make those feelings clear."

    Government agents will be at this year's DEFCon; it's just that they will be even less likely to announce their affiliation than usual.

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:35PM (#44256545)

    I'd sleep a lot better knowing that at least it will be safe from some 12 year old Chinese hacker.

    It's not a 12 y/o Chinese hacker that most US citizens need to fear. It is the unrestrained overreaching of the US government as they push aside our privacy, our rights, our Constitution and our history.

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:42PM (#44256613)

    The reason its us against them is because they have repeatedly broken the law, in spirit if not in fact, by their current activities. The only possible reason for them to be doing so is to gather more and more power to those who enable them. The purpose of such power is always to control, to enforce their will upon those who would otherwise prefer to live a life of freedom instead of a life of enslavement.

    Those concepts aside, it becomes more of an us against them atmosphere when hackers, people who skirt legalities to do what they do in a lot of circumstances, are in the same room with law enforcement who are known to be gathering information on ALL communications in the US. Keep in mind that those communications may be discussing illegal activities whose purpose is to research weaknesses in security methods. While this could technically be illegal their purpose is to educate and repair problems - and the unfortunate wording and enforcement of the law makes their activities illegal. So bearing all of that in mind, the NSA walks into the room and starts getting names of people in attendance, then goes back and digs into PRISM and finds what those people are doing. And then, ultimately, either uses it for their own agenda or passes the information on to someone who will.

    is that really in the best interest of anyone who wants to retain not only their freedom but their civil liberties?

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@NOsPAM.mac.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:57PM (#44256745) Journal

    Afterall, if they do legally obtain some of my private information for whatever reason, I'd sleep a lot better knowing that at least it will be safe from some 12 year old Chinese hacker.

    I'd trust a random 12 year-old Chinese hacker before I'd trust an organization that's currently torturing and keeping people locked up illegally.

    -jcr

  • Re: Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:02PM (#44256793) Homepage

    So can a divorce.

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nobodyknowsimageek (218815) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:24PM (#44256957)

    It is rather difficult to trust a group of people with a long history of lies, abuses, manipulation, and little or no accountability.

    That also explains why I don't trust much coming out of the "hacker" community, either. :)

    See what happens when you make sweeping generalizations about a community based on the wrongdoings of some members of that community?

  • et tu? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:34PM (#44257017) Homepage Journal

    This is how you find out who's snitching to the feds.

    I can well understand why anyone in the non-corporate, civilian security community would have absolutely lost any shred of trust they had in the feds.

    Those guys in DEFCON know who Aaron Schwartz is. They probably know people like Edward Snowden. They know that the federal government could bring their whole world crashing down in a heartbeat, without anything like constitutional rights.

    I bet there are some feds who are sad about missing the parties, and about missing all the intel. But seriously, if any of them were decent people, they'd be blowing whistles, too.

    Anybody who's working for the federal government in cybersecurity needs to make a decision about their future. Are they OK with being part of a police state? I know jobs are scarce, but if the day ever comes where push comes to shove, understanding of why they chose to continue to be part of this American StaziTM is going to be even more scarce.

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanEHdian (1098955) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:44PM (#44257093)
    For the NSA, there is no "Anonymous Coward"...
  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:08PM (#44257225)

    Yes there is. They call them "Analysts".

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:06PM (#44257593) Journal
    We ALL knew they were spying. What has changed is that they are no longer even bothering to hide it.
  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:08PM (#44257609) Journal
    There was proof even before. About the only thing that was revealed by Snowden was the exact names of the companies that were helping the NSA (and a few more similar details).

    I don't know why suddenly it's become such a big issue when it wasn't before. Maybe everyone was distracted by gay marriage or abortion or banks or spying on the press or something. The number of scandals going on is rather ridiculous.

    I'd still rather have it be a big issue than not.
  • by haus (129916) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:43PM (#44257841) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps you have not spent much time at these gatherings, but the amount of crossover between the them and the bone breakers is rather limited. It is more likely that additional mean spirited T-shirts will be created AND displayed.

  • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:1, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:12PM (#44258017)

    It is rather difficult to trust a group of people with a long history of lies, abuses, manipulation, and little or no accountability.

    That also explains why I don't trust much coming out of the "hacker" community, either. :)

    See what happens when you make sweeping generalizations about a community based on the wrongdoings of some members of that community?

    If you thought your one-liner taught me a valuable life lesson, your smug expectations deserve to be disappointed. What you think you're point out is trivial, obvious, and only a moment's thought reveals why it's wrong.

    Characterizing a government is not a "sweeping generalization" like, say, characterizing a race or ethnic group. A government includes those at the top who make the important decisions and those who have chosen to carry out those decisions. This is not a "community", it's a voluntary organization. No one is making any of them behave the way they do. "Just following orders" didn't work at Nuremberg and it doesn't work here, either.

    What you seldom or never see is "the wrongdoings of some members" being investigated and prosecuted by the other members. What you often see is that life suddenly gets very difficult and unpleasant for whistleblowers. People choose to work in these positions and to carry out these activities because they believe in and support them.

    I'm sorry but portraying corrupt officials and the silent consent of their lackeys, massive unconstitutional abuses such as the NSA spying, and a long list of other scandals that usually result in a resignation at the very worst, as "mean ol Causality picking on poor helpless extremely powerful people" is so goddamned naive.

  • Re: Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Friday July 12, 2013 @12:19AM (#44258369)

    this is starting to tread onto the batshit insane territory now! seriously? make your own roads? make your own bridges using "basic geometry and a few wood/metal shop classes"? and lets not even get started about the military protection that you think only consists of guns and "a few home-rigged explosives"?

  • Re: Fuck 'em (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday July 12, 2013 @12:21AM (#44258379)

    military protection.

    yeah, we are always being attacked by actual armies by other countries ON OUR OWN LAND.

    yup, happens so much, we need to keep arming our military more and more.

    "I feel so safe"

    (barf!)

    but hey, those who have military and defense related jobs are surely enjoying this and the last decade. the rest of us have to deal with poor roads, rotting infrastructure, lack of money for proper education and the general enrichment of society via improvements we 'cannot afford' due to military spending.

    but sure, at least we have the illusion of being 'safer'. I guess there's that....

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