Home Editor's News Eight speakers cancel RSA Conference slots

Eight speakers cancel RSA Conference slots

January 8, 2014 | Posted by Dan Raywood

More industry speakers have dropped out of next month’s RSA Conference in San Francisco in protest against the company’s alleged $10 million deal with the NSA.


Following the likes of F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen and Jeffrey Carr, security commentator, Christopher Soghoian announced on Twitter that he had withdrawn from a panel session he was due to be speaking on.


According to the Washington Post, a further five speakers have pulled their talks, including Google’s Chris Palmer and Adam Langley, and Josh Thomas of Atredis Partners.


The “boycott” was in response to news that RSA was paid $10 million by the NSA to implement backdoors in its products. The news claimed that two people familiar with RSA’s BSafe software said that RSA had received the money in exchange for making the NSA’s cryptographic formula as the default for encrypted key generation in BSafe.


In an open letter, Hypponen said: “While I am glad to see that many other speakers have decided to cancel their appearances at RSA 2014 in protest, I don’t want to portray myself as a leader of a boycott. I did what I felt I had to do. Others are making their own decisions.”


In response, security analyst Richard Stiennon wrote a blog calling the decisions to boycott the show “a case of misplaced anger”.  Detailing the division between RSA ‘the company’ and RSA ‘the conference’, he said: “The IT security industry is going to counter surveillance with new products, new protocols and new organisations dedicated to privacy and confidentiality of communications.


“Those of us in the United States can be vocal. We can make our voices heard. Customers of US tech companies must demand that they fully account for the security of their products. The vendors must invest in independent testing and validation of their products. They must attest to their opposition to government interference in their product designs. They must lobby Congress to curtail the surveillance state.”


He encouraged RSA Conference presenters to do whatever they can to educate their audiences on the implications of a surveillance state, and requested RSA Conference to invite “some of the most vocal critics of the NSA to present”.


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