For the first time in the 21-year-history of the famed hacker's convention, government employees are being asked to stay away, albeit in a polite fashion.
Def Con founder Jeff Moss, aka The Dark Tangent, posted the following plea on the event's Web site late Wednesday:
Feds, we need some time apart.Moss, who also advises the Department of Homeland Security on security issues, told Reuters he believes the Defcon community needs some time to digest the recent leaks about U.S. surveillance programs.
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 Dark Tangent
"The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with," Moss said. "A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high."
But Def Con won't be hiring a bunch of bouncers to throw out the Feds.
"We are not going on a witch hunt or checking IDs and kicking people out," Moss added.
Def Con has always been geared toward hackers, researchers, and other security devotees. But employees from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and other government branches have been welcome and have attended for many years.
General Keith Alexander, the head of National Security Agency, even gave a keynote speech at last year's event. Alexander was asked at the time whether the government was snooping on its citizens and denied that the NSA was gathering information on all Americans.