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11 July 2013, 19:35

DEF CON hacker conference says no feds, please

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DEF CON Fed spotted
Zoom Less troubled times: A DEF CON visitor (right) uncovered an FBI agent among the attendees and convinced her to get on stage.
Source:  Uli Ries
In a blog entry on the conference web site, DEF CON founder Jeff Moss (aka The Dark Tangent) has asked federal agents not to attend this year's DEF CON, which is set to take place in early August. Since recent news of the US government's extensive eavesdropping operations has made it difficult for many hackers to feel comfortable casually mixing with law enforcement officials, Moss is asking FBI agents, known as "feds", to take the year off. "This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next," Moss wrote.

Moss's request is somewhat unusual, considering that FBI agents have been tolerated – if not entirely trusted – at the event for years. The love-hate relationship even spawned a "Spot the Fed" competition: DEF CON attendees who uncovered an agent and convinced them to get up on stage would get some kind of trophy – usually something from the feds themselves, like a mug, t-shirt or mousepad with the official FBI seal.

For years, the US Department of Defense and the now under-fire NSA have had booths at the conference to recruit talented hackers. Last year, General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, even held a presentation on the first day of DEF CON that generated a lot of discussion.

This year's edition of DEF CON will take place from 1 to 4 August at Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.


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