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<nettime> Kyle Maxwell: DEFCON drama
Patrice Riemens on Thu, 11 Jul 2013 18:02:43 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Kyle Maxwell: DEFCON drama

Maybe read this background article first:


DEFCON drama
2013-07-10 by Kyle Maxwell
original to: https://overhack.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/defcon-drama/

So The Dark Tangent posted tonight on DEFCON.org that feds are not welcome
at the convention this year. While it doesn't appear they were actively
banned, it certainly appears that they would really really like for
anybody working for the federal government not to attend. I can't tell
right now if any of the speakers were cancelled, though certainly a number
of retired feds are still on the schedule as of now. Given current budget
constraints, this may prove only to be a gesture rather than have any
significant effect on reality. Many feds may not be able to attend in any

As one might expect, this led to significant discussion on Twitter and
other for a this evening. Some folks feel really slighted, even those who
no longer work for the federal government. In many cases, they are
contractors who work for the government though not directly. The point has
been made that perhaps what we need is more communication, not less.

I think this is indicative of tensions and have the building within the
InfoSec community for some time. While not new, I feel a mood in the
hacker community that has resurged to levels I've not seen in years. The
Snowden affair really only brought to the fore problems that seemed to
worsen during the Bush administration, then got quiet with many people
felt that perhaps things will change under President Obama. Clearly, that
was not the case by any stretch of the imagination.

As a side note, this does not affect the Black Hat conference in any way.
Jeff Moss (the dark tangent) does not run black hat anymore. Several years
ago, he sold the rights to that conference and while he still participates
in it he no longer makes the decisions.

So now what? What does the future hold? I'd be foolish to believe I could
actually answer that question, but certainly things are difficult right
now. I feel it in my own professional relationships with friends and
colleagues who view matters differently. This sort of polarization is
common in regular politics, but it has a different feel to it now as
people who normally work together on the same projects views those
projects' role within the larger scope of society very differently.
Questions of surveillance and privacy now matter in ways that perhaps some
had forgotten before. We have to be conscious of this not only in our
engineering but also in our marketing and perhaps begin a new era of
design similar to what the crypto community experienced during the 1990s.

I like to think that we will be able to work past this. But I believe that
the question to your are much larger than what the InfoSec community
itself will be able to handle. The proper balance or relationship between
privacy, security, and liberty are being redefined in ways that no one
person has been able to fully grasp until now. Trotting outlines from be
loved fingers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson may make us feel
better, but is not a substitute for real thought and consideration of the
nuances and complexities of the 21st century.

Certainly our civil liberties are under assault. The entire Bill of Rights
has come under fire due to perhaps overzealous authorities whose motives
in some cases actually do reflect their concern for public safety -- and
other cases their own desire for power. Do not mistake this for typical
partisan posturing. Within the United States, neither major party has
anything like a clean record in this area. We live in a William Gibson
cyberpunk novel -- or perhaps a Philip K Dick dystopia. But works of
fiction conclude. The story ends, whether with a neat ending or an
unresolved dilemma. Real life is not like that. It continues forth: even
when the story could end for dramatic reasons, people's lives go on.

A hacker convention, even one as important to our culture as DEFCON, will
not change the world. But we certainly have to start thinking about what

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