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Def Con Hacking Conference Puts Feds In 'Time-Out'

An image of the site promoting Def Con 21, a large annual gathering of hackers in Las Vegas. The meeting's leader is asking federal workers to stay away from this year's event.
An image of the site promoting Def Con 21, a large annual gathering of hackers in Las Vegas. The meeting's leader is asking federal workers to stay away from this year's event.

As one of the world's largest gatherings of hackers, the Def Con conference has long welcomed experts from the security industry and the U.S. government, along with academics and hackers. But this year, Def Con's leader is asking federal workers , due to recent revelations about U.S. electronic surveillance.

The request was announced Wednesday in a message titled, "Feds, we need some time apart," which was posted at the Def Con site. It reads:

"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. Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a 'time-out' and not attend DEF CON this year.

"This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next."

The note was written by Jeff Moss, the founder of both the Def Con and the Black Hat hackers' conferences, who was writing under his hacker name, The Dark Tangent.

This year marks the 21st Def Con meeting, held annually in Las Vegas. The conference is set to begin in early August.

The U.S. government and large Internet companies have struggled to cope with the fallout of leaks by former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden, which exposed broad spying abilities.

As we reported Wednesday, more than 50 percent of Americans who answered a question about Snowden in a national survey said they see him as a whistle-blower, not as a traitor.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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