Print 8 comment(s) - last by foolsgambit11.. on Jul 15 at 12:33 PM

Conference founder is worried "spot the fed" might get ugly

Gone are those precious days when the hackers and "the feds" (such as National Security Agencchief Gen. Keith Alexander) -- a keynote speaker -- held hands and sang "trollololo" skipping across the floor of Defcon.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's safe to say that if hackers were wary of the U.S. federal government before, they're now openly hostile in the midst of the "stunning" revelation that the NSA is spying on 99 percent of phone-using Americans' location on a daily basis and subsequent efforts to charge IT administrator-turned-leaker Edward Snowden using the Espionage Act of 1917 (18 U.S.C. § 792).

Concerned that the annual game of "spot the fed" at Defcon 2013 might devolving into something more violent, conference founder Jeff "DarkTangent" Moss told federal agents to stay way for the first time in the conference's 21-year history.  He wrote on the conference website, "It would be best for everyone involved if the Feds call a 'time-out' and not attend Def Con this year."

DefCon 21 poster

In an interview with Reuters, he elaborates on the rejection, "The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with.  A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high.  [But] we are not going on a witch hunt or checking IDs and kicking people out."

That's a rough shake for the feds, who mostly attend dressed in plain clothes, who long used the conference as a stomping ground for recruits.  Defcon is one of the largest conferences in the world for hackers and security professionals.  The 21st annual Defcon is being held Aug. 1-4 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Last year at Defcon 20, as mentioned four-star General (and NSA chief) Keith Alexander gave a keynote speech, in which he ironically stated, "The people who would say we are [keeping records on millions of Americans] should know better.  That is absolute nonsense."

Jeff Moss
The Dark Tangent, aka. Jeff Moss [Image Source: ABC News]

Well technically, the NSA is keeping records on hundreds of millions of Americans, but that comment still seems slightly misleading in retrospect.

Aside from the NSA, agents from the military, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Secret Service.  Previously founder Jeff Moss had even encouraged feds to work in the conference's security force with t-shirts identifying them as "goons".  He explained last year, "We created an environment where the Feds felt they could come and it wasn't hostile.  We could ask them questions and they wanted to ask the hackers about new techniques."

A lot has changed in a year.

Source: Reuters

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Don't worry
By wookie1 on 7/12/2013 11:44:50 AM , Rating: 5
Don't worry, even if they're not there in person, they're watching everything that's going on and every keystroke and mouse movement remotely.

RE: Don't worry
By Mitch101 on 7/12/2013 12:53:54 PM , Rating: 2
Agree somehow I think they noted everyone before or as they walked in the facility. Which is probably a good thing as they might hire some of them someday to protect data.

By JDuckett on 7/12/13, Rating: 0
RE: Violence?
By maugrimtr on 7/15/2013 11:28:19 AM , Rating: 2
Excluding the feds isn't necessary. Most of the ones attending are bound not to disclose information and some of them may even celebrate Snowden's whistleblowing (sorry, er, treasonous outing of secret court authorised surveillance).

There never would have been violence.

RE: Violence?
By Misty Dingos on 7/15/2013 12:30:19 PM , Rating: 2
Please anyone explain how a secret court with absolutely no opposition in the court room and little to no effective over site is in anyway a bulwark against abuse? When the warrants granted are never made public despite that they are public records. Which is exactly how that is supposed to work. Oh right they will declassify them after the threat has been determined to have passed. Wake up kids, the good ole USA will always face a threat. So the warrants will always be a deep dark secret. Or as they are called "Top Secret, SCI No-Forn". The FICA court has become a rubber stamp for warrant-less data mining.

And we are just supposed to trust the US Federal government not to use any of that data collected for purposes not intended? The data collected is more valuable that the gold in Fort Knox so in all likelihood it has all ready been compromised for purposes it was not intended.

This is not how any thinking person could imagine that a court that is supposed to protect us from the abuses of a federal agency with the power of the NSA and its brethren should be organized, over watched, verified and managed.

And if you think the FICA court is working just fine, you are an idiot and please walk east or west until the water covers your nose as you will not be able to help the country with this problem.

They'll be there anyway
By Moishe on 7/12/2013 11:47:04 AM , Rating: 3
Violence? Doubt it.

Regardless of any PR message from anyone, the government has and will watch Defcon closely.

By Ammohunt on 7/12/2013 3:26:48 PM , Rating: 3
The feds should go anyway just wear guy Fawkes masks.

Keeping records?
By foolsgambit11 on 7/15/2013 12:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's not impossible to square Alexander's quote with the metadata scandal. The NSA may be collecting records but not keeping them, only filtering them for specific targets, then flushing the rest of the data from their systems. They've always had mechanisms for getting rid of unauthorized collected data. Or they may be keeping it all, and he was lying through his teeth. We just don't know what the NSA does with the data collected.

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