DefCon, one of the premier gatherings of hackers in the United States, has a message for the government officials who normally attend: Not this year. After all, if you can't trust the NSA, who can you trust?
The announcement appeared at the conference website yesterday, in a post titled, "Feds, We Need Some Time Apart."
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.
When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship.
The post, written under the pseudonym The Dark Tangent (a.k.a. Jeff Moss, as Ars Technica notes), then suggests a "time-out" so that both sides can "think about what comes next."
Federal officials—not just from the NSA—generally attend with the goal of finding new recruits. Hiring hackers is a necessarily fraught venture, but hiring hackers to work for the government is trickier still. Those who take a practiced interest in getting around technical boundaries may not do well under the regimented structure of a division of the Department of Defense. If you need an example of the risks, consider the NSA's most famous recent hacker: Edward Snowden.