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Boycott of RSA Conference Expands as Presenters Back Out in the Double Digits

Last week, I shared the news that three presenters at the RSAC — the upcoming conference of the RSA “cybersecurity” corporation — had withdrawn from presenting as a way of protesting the revelation that RSA had accepted millions of dollars in payment on the hush from the National Security Agency, installing a “back door” method allowing the NSA to break RSA clients’ encryption and spy on their communications without a warrant, all while RSA continued to sell its products as “secure.”

A week later, the number of RSA conference presenters who have backed out of their planned talks in protest has expanded to ten.

Meanwhile, 18 out of the last 20 tweets on the #RSAC Twitter hashtag are voicing protest of RSA’s action and in support of a boycott of the RSA Conference. The only 2 of those tweets not in favor of boycotting the RSAC have been posted by RSA itself. The hashtag has become a bashtag.

5 comments to Boycott of RSA Conference Expands as Presenters Back Out in the Double Digits

  • Tom

    Geez, ya might think the RSA was a bank or something.

    “Hey, we’re just tryin’ a eat!” one anonymous member of RSA management was not quoted as saying.

    Nice to see some people still have standards.

  • Tom

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/01/fool-believes-nsa.html

    Only a FOOL Still Believes the NSA

    Posted on January 14, 2014 by WashingtonsBlog

    Why Does Anyone Still Believe the NSA?

    The NSA and other intelligence officials have been repeatedly caught lying about their spying programs.

    Officials in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government all say that the mass surveillance on Americans is unnecessary:
    ◾3 Senators with top secret clearance “have reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means”
    ◾Another Senator with top secret clearance agrees, and so does the congress member who wrote the Patriot Act, and more than 100 congress members from both parties
    ◾As does the official panel created by President Obama to review NSA spying, made up of top former White House officials and other government insiders, including the head of counter-terrorism under Clinton and Bush and former deputy CIA director Michael J. Morrell
    ◾NBC News reports:

    A member of the White House review panel on NSA surveillance said he was “absolutely” surprised when he discovered the agency’s lack of evidence that the bulk collection of telephone call records had thwarted any terrorist attacks.“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor….

    “That was stunning. That was the ballgame,” said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified. “It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us.”

    The conclusions of the panel’s reports were at direct odds with public statements by President Barack Obama and U.S. intelligence officials.
    ◾A non-profit, bipartisan policy group says that NSA mass surveillance has no impact on terrorism
    ◾CNN terrrorism expert Peter Bergen says that mass surveillance is not needed to stop another 9/11
    ◾Former president Clinton (and apparently Carter, as well), agree that mass surveillance is unnecessary
    ◾As do the chairs of the 9/11 Commission which was created by Congress and the White House
    ◾As does the counter-terrorism czar under the Clinton and Bush administrations, Richard Clarke. And see this
    ◾As does a federal judge (and see this)

    Top terrorism and security experts also agree, saying that:
    ◾Mass spying by the NSA has never stopped a single terrorist attack
    ◾Mass surveillance doesn’t protect us from terrorism
    ◾Mass spying actually interferes with our ability to stop terrorism

    Indeed, the NSA itself no longer claims that its mass spying program has stopped terror attacks or saved lives. Instead, intelligence spokesmen themselves now claim that mass spying is just an “insurance policy” to give “peace of mind”.

    But given that mass surveillance by governments on their own people have always been used – for at least 500 years – to crush dissent, that the NSA has a long history of spying on Congress for political purposes, and that high-level NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is using spying to blackmail politicians and social critics and to prosecute people the government dislikes, the question is whose peace of mind the programs preserve

    And while the NSA claims that disclosure of its spying programs hurts America’s security, that’s what authoritarians always say. For example:
    ◾When leakers disclosed that the FBI was conducting mass spying on – and smearing – anti-war Americans, attorney general John Mitchell said that the leaks would “endanger” the lives of government agents
    ◾Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams did exactly what Edward Snowden did … and were likewise labeled as traitors by the British government

    So how can anyone believe the NSA at this point?

    Unfortunately, fear of terror makes people unable to think straight … and when the government undertakes a large, idiotic project – like launching the Iraq war – many people will go to great lengths to grasp at straws to try to rationalize the government’s ill-conceived campaign.

    The minority of Americans who believe the NSA have – sadly – fallen for the same trick …

  • Jim Cook

    Turns out that the claims about NSA surveillance stopping terrorist attacks were “overblown and even misleading.” That’s nice-speak for a lie. See http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/do_nsas_bulk_surveillance_programs_stop_terrorists

  • Bill

    The conference boycott is a nice symbolic effort, but wake me up when the outrage hits them where it hurts…in the wallet. RSA is a division of EMC Corporation. There’s little or no opportunity for ‘civilians’ to boycott EMC’s products, since it is an enterprise software and IT services company. Amazingly, the RSA revelations don’t seem to have hurt EMC at all yet…its stock is trading in about the middle of its 52-week range. I’m a little surprised. One of EMC’s biggest money-makers is a product called Documentum, which almost every major corporation uses today to index, store, search and access all its internal documents and data. A back-door into Documentum would lay bare every corporate secret to prying eyes. And I’m guessing you can count on that being in place.

    If your job involves you at all in discussions regarding IT service providers, you might want to point out to anyone who’ll listen at work that buying booby-trapped software from a proven sneak-cheat doesn’t make any kind of sense. Ditch Documentum!

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