BOSTON — The annual Def Con hacking convention has asked the federal government to stay away this year for the first time in its 21-year history, saying Edward Snowden’s revelations have made some in the community uncomfortable about having feds there.
“It would be best for everyone involved if the Feds call a ‘time-out’ and not attend Def Con this year,” Def Con founder Jeff Moss said in an announcement posted Wednesday night on the convention’s website.
An irreverent crowd of more than 15,000 hackers, researchers, corporate security experts, privacy advocates, artists and others are expected to attend the Las Vegas convention that begins August 2.
Moss, who is an advisor on cyber security to the Department of Homeland Security, told Reuters that it was “a tough call”, but that he believed the Def Con community needs time to make sense of the recent revelations about US surveillance programmes.
“The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with,” said Moss, who is known as The Dark Tangent in hacking circles. “A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high.”
He said that the move was not designed to create tension, but to defuse it.
“We are not going on a witch hunt or checking IDs and kicking people out,” he said.
In previous years the conference has attracted officials from federal agencies including the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI, Secret Service and all branches of the military.
Last year, four-star General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, was a keynote speaker at the event, which is the world’s largest annual hacking conference. (Reuters)