Feds asked to avoid DEF CON this year

Jeff Moss (aka “The Dark Tangent”), founder and director of the Black Hat conference and DEF CON, has officially announced that employees of US federal agencies should keep away from this year’s edition of DEF CON, which is scheduled for the beginning of August.

“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,” he wrote in a statement titled “Feds, we need some time apart.”

“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,” he concluded.

The move was obviously triggered by the recent revelations about the electronic surveillance of both US citizens and foreigners by the hands of the NSA, but I doubt anyone expects any meaningful result apart from the longstanding “Spot The Fed” game becoming more challenging.

I understand Moss’ decision to publicly make this request – after all, DEF CON’s main audience are hackers, and a lot of them have only grudgingly tolerated the feds’ presence in the past years – but his move has angered some such as OpenStack developer Matt Joyce.

Others took Moss’ side and applauded his statement, and have even managed to joke about it. “My theory is @thedarktangent uninvited feds because it’s redundant, as the feds are monitoring everything anyway,” Errata Security owner Robert Graham wrote on Twitter.

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