U.S. government employees were told to stay away from this year’s DEF CON hacker event in Las Vegas – politely.
In a post on the official website, DEF CON’s founder, The Dark Tangent (aka Jeff Moss) told federal employees that in light of recent events – not specifically naming the top-secret intelligence gathering programs that were unveiled last month – it would be best if they “call a ‘time-out’ and not attend DEF CON this year.”
In the past, employees from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and other government entities attended the event. For the first time in its 21-year history, attendees at the hackers’ convention will not include members of the federal government, according to Reuters. An estimated conglomerate of 15,000 hackers, researchers, corporate security experts, privacy advocates and artists are still expected to attend the convention that begins on August 2.
Moss, an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security on security issues, told Reuters that the hacker community needed some time to fully understand the implications of the government’s surveillance programs, leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.
"The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with," he explained to Reuters. "A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high."
Still, he assured that DEF CON will not be hiring bouncers to throw out any government employees.
"We are not going on a witch hunt or checking IDs and kicking people out," Moss added.
During the 2012 DEF CON event, Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, spoke at a keynote speech. When asked by audience members about secret government surveillance programs, the four-star General vehemently denied the existence of such programs.