Skip to main content

Def Con hacking conference tells Feds to stay away in wake of Prism

Federal agents have been asked to stay away from this year's Def Con hacking conference in the wake of the US National Security Agency Prism hacking scandal.

The event in Las Vegas is one of the world's biggest hacker events, but conference founder Jeff Moss says feelings are "running high" among the hacking community, following ex-spying contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about the Prism spying network.

CIA, FBI, Security Service, law enforcement and senior army personnel are normally all welcome at the annual hacking convention, but not this year. They should take a "timeout' this time round, said Moss on the Def Con website.

The event, which takes place from 1 August, is expected to attract around 15,000 hackers, who will debate the main security topics and demonstrate their coding expertise.

Moss said, "Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect," which had led to an exchange of information with the security bodies that had seemed mutually beneficial, he said.

But, said Moss, many hackers now questioned that free exchange of ideas in the wake of ongoing disclosures about the National Security Agency's Prism programme.

"It would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a 'timeout' and not attend Def Con this year," he said.

"A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high," Moss told Reuters.

But Moss said Def Con organisers would not be checking the identities of everyone who attended in an attempt to bar federal agents. Federal agencies often use the event to pinpoint and hire hacking talent to their organisations.