Sure, working with ICANN may not be associated with "evil".
However to those in the know, it is associated with greed under the guise of "service to the public".
Personally, I'd prefer a world where ICANN, namely the centralization and commercialization of domain names to benefit a select few insiders and an array of parasitic sleazebags, gave way to a non-antagonistic naming system harmonized with trademark law and actually run transparently as a public service, for the public benefit.
Don't forget a US-centric internet, far more readily controlled and manipulated by that state than any other.
But I agree that they're not "The Man" per se. Though I assume they're co-opted to the core.
"Feds, we need some time apart.
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"
(I suspect the main objections to indoor paintball will come from the venue. Perhaps a less messy, but still humiliating, method can be used?)
That said, that's the least important reason, the more important one being that you can't just nail people with any kind of gun at an infosec conference, no matter how unconf it is.
It is also worth mentioning that Black Hat (the two days preceding DEF CON) has reportedly seen a drop in registrations due to lack of funding for federal employees to attend (I have no source for this other than industry rumor). There was a suggestion that some would still attend DEF CON and save on the registration cost for Black Hat, but many were planning to stay away anyway.
I feel that this is more public relations than anything else, the feds will still be there but DEF CON can present the image of being underground hackers fighting "the man". Some of the smartest people that I have met at these sort of events work for governments around the world, either directly or through private companies.
The reason the lines have blurred between the two groups over the past decade is as much to do with money as it is to do with diplomacy or a shared enemy. I think that this statement goes against one of the core values of DEF CON: that everyone is welcome, regardless of background or ability.
This year, in the spirit of inclusivity, they should bring in the lead architect of the Great Firewall of China.
That said, I doubt anyone interested in working for the NSA would be put off by this/the recent leaks, or that anyone who didn't want to work for the NSA was going to change their mind at DEF CON.
It's folklore wisdom that many of those people have to tell their friends and family that they work for the "GSA" doing PC networking or something like that.
I'm curious other security conventions will take the same stance.
 One year a reporter disguised herself as an attendee instead of admitting she was a reporter, and was attempting to get hackers on record saying that they've hacked into <this> and <that> important system. She was found out and summarily chased (literally) out the convention.
" Over the past two decades, hackers at Defcon and the feds have been circling each other suspiciously. The nation's top "spook" -- National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander -- giving a keynote at the hacker confab, shows just how much tensions have mellowed." http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57481689-83/nsa-director-fi...
Things don't look so mellow anymore.
I doubt it. It's just PR. Defcon will invite the feds back once everything blows over, PRISM or not.
Edit: the reason for that impression is that there is no declaration of a policy in his message (e.g. "feds are prohibited from soliciting employees at DC21"), rather a soft "time-out". With all due respect to DT, neither we nor the feds are in the third grade. Contrast this with their strict journalist policy and recall how that undercover reporter was outed and kicked out/chased away a few years ago.
Here, he's trying to pose as an anti-fed activist while simultaneously drawing a Department of Homeland Security paycheck.
the reason for that impression is that there is no declaration of a policy in his message
Defcon knows they can't dictate everything that happens, only influence it. Feds are going to be there one way or another, thats why DT had an "invite the feds" attitude from the beginning. To hear some goons tell it, the "spot the fed" game was created as a social device to reduce animosity between attendees and law enforcement while also reminding everyone that strangers at the convention aren't your friends.
Even with enforcing hard and fast ideas (like the journalism boundary) they start off with a light touch. They gave the reporter many chances to stop snooping about and get a press badge. Before letting us into the convention center on day one red shirts were giving out warnings. That was days before she was publicly called out in one of the panels and marched out of the Riv.
As you say, we're not in third grade. But defcon does know it, and understand they can't keep people out a no-names cash-transaction event based on attendee employer. The most they can hope to do is say "Hey, maybe not so much this year?" Time will tell how it plays out, but the last thing I would call it is an attempt to save face or change the image of the event. I thought it was 100% DT playing a joke at first, and I still think its a joke now, just one with a message.
The culture of DEF CON, and especially its evolution, is a very interesting one. When I first attended DEF CON, it was a bunch of seemingly scary hackers. Fortunately, it turns out most of them were amazing people.
As the conference grew (and changed venues several times), the culture began to evolve. The barrier to entry--in terms of being "accepted" into the subculture--lowered significantly. DEF CON stopped being a scary place, with goons that would "de-tech" you and throw you in the pool, and more of a mainstream event. For the most part, I'm completely supportive of where DEF CON's going. I'm definitely supportive of air conditioning in the venue, instead of standing outside in the sweltering Las Vegas summertime heat.
That said, though, it's not really a "hacker conference" anymore. Not more than its sister conference, Black Hat, or something like RSA, anyway.
DEF CON used to be about hacking. Not in the HN sense, but in the "illegal entry into networks" definition. Now, it's less about hacking and more about the actual information security industry; this is probably related to the fact that everyone I knew at the first DEF CON I attended (myself included) currently works in the infosec industry.
With growth, exposure, and the inclusion of white hats, DEF CON naturally became a recruiting ground for federal agencies, including law enforcement, the military, intelligence, etc. The 'spot the fed' game that began as a joke (with prizes!) soon seemed silly, since there were so many federal employees/recruiters/agents.
I'm all for DEF CON entering the mainstream. It's a conference and community that I've grown to love, and the lessons I've learned there (not to mention the friends I've made) have helped me immensely--both personally and professionally. That said, though, there's pretty much zero chance that this announcement DT made will have any effect whatsoever on federal agents, recruiters or representatives attending the con. More than anything, it's a huge publicity stunt.
After all, most of the staff and "old school" attendees work for "the man" now. For some, like me, it's just hacking for money; many, though, actually do work for defense and intelligence contractors. Should they be banned because of their affiliation?
Personally, I don't think so.
PS: If you're considering going to DEF CON and you've never been, you should! It's a booze-fueled learning, partying and networking event unlike any other. Plus, you get to hang out in Vegas for a weekend!
Absolutely. The hacker community should not contribute to the knowledge of those who work to undermine privacy and feed the surveillance-industrial complex.
Discrimination is bad when it's about 'who someone is', never when it's about 'what someone does'. Providing work and support in exchange for money is very much 'what someone does'.
How do you decide if it's okay or not to discriminate against employees when the employer in question is legal? You say it's never bad. How do you know that?
Is it okay for the IRS to discriminate on the basis of one's employer? What about other arms of the government?
What is legal and what is ethical are not necessarily the same thing, hence laws changing to make slavery illegal, etc. Ethical considerations often result in the changing of laws.
Would discrimination against the employees of a legal employer in one's own state (country) ever be unethical?
Of course. Feel free to skip the leading questions and make whatever point you're working towards.
I believe that discriminating against someone on the basis of their legal employment is unethical and you don't, so I'm trying to determine when it's okay and when it's not okay.
What I've learned is that some people (including you) believe that sometimes it's okay to discriminate against people on the basis of their legal employment and sometimes it's not, and that it's up to whether the employment in question goes against your own personal ethical standards.
I'm not condemning this discrimination, only noting that it goes against my own personal ethics. People need jobs to survive, and even Snowden spent more of his life as a bad guy than as a hero. I'm fine with discriminating against work, but not against workers.
If you want to explore the issue in more depth, fine - maybe there are more nuances - but I understand if you're tired of it.
You had the choice of hacking for the good of people or you could join forces with 'The Man' and make a bunch of money. Maybe the choice isn't so binary, but nonetheless the choice is there. I could understand your statement, 'People need jobs to survive', if your profession was bricklayer, or shelf-stacker, but being a no doubt highly qualified individual in a booming field, as Snowden is, does not generally leave you scrambling to pay the rent and buy your groceries.
Present employers? Certainly. A number of business schools do this already in the selection process. If you run a gun school and a student comes to you to tell you he is using your training to rob a bank, it would be unethical to teach him. If you are doing training on hacking and you know the student will use this hacking for unethical and illegal wiretapping, it would be unethical to teach him. Again, it is fine to discriminate on what someone is doing.
Future employers? If the candidate is locked into the path - eg, he will use your training to rob a bank, then it would be unethical to teach him. However, as he has not done it yet, and people can change their minds, it would likely be ethical to teach him while also steering him towards the correct path. Ethical or not would depend on three factors: how likely you are to sway him; how much damage he would cause if you could not; and how easy it would be for him to find the training elsewhere, where he would likely not benefit at all from steering.
Past employers? This one is, unfortunately, much harder. If someone is a murderer and has not gone to jail, should you discriminate? If someone is a murderer and has gone to jail but is not repentant, should you discriminate? If he is repentant, should you discriminate? This one is difficult because it crosses the line of 'who one is' and 'what one does'. I'd say everyone will give different answers here based on a huge number of factors. It likely comes down to repentance and acknowledgment on whether what one does was wrong and believable agreement that it will not be done again.
Of coarse, sometimes we put our own safety above ethics, and people have differing opinions on whether that is right or not. There is no easy answer there.
Really I was just wondering if you have any examples of legal but unethical employers that you believe it's okay for a university to cite to discriminate against an applicant, in your home country. Perhaps the military?
Ding ding ding. Please keep this in mind at all times.
They not only can be, but unfortunately both often are.
Also, this is a bit off-topic, but "ding ding ding" is rather condescending. I believe you think I'm somebody that I'm not.
Regarding federal law, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and a few other protected classes is illegal. Discrimination on the basis of other factors is generally acceptable, except where they collide with membership in the protected classes. (For example, a hacker conference cannot require that all participants have an uncovered head and demand observant Jews, Sikhs, etc. to take off their religious headgear, since there is no safety need for it.) Employment in a specific company is in general not a protected class.
Some states have additional restrictions on which discriminatory practices are not okay. In California, the Unruh Civil Rights Act says: “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
Most civil rights protections limit the prohibition to a list of discriminatory classes. The Unruh act is different because, quoting from the courts: “The Act expresses a state and national policy against discrimination on arbitrary grounds. Its provisions were intended as an active measure measure that would create and preserve a nondiscriminatory environment in California business establishments by ‘banishing’ or ‘eradicating’ arbitrary, invidious discrimination by such establishments.”
For example an ACLU lawyer was found to be in violation of the Unruh Act because in a 1980 California public meeting on police surveillance practices, where the police chief was invited but declined to come, one of the police officers attended in civilian clothes, and never announced that he was an officer. The ACLU believed he was an undercover agent, and kicked him out. The officer sued, and the courts found that that was arbitrary discrimination.
In any case, DefCon is in Nevada, which does not have a similar law. I don't know enough about California law to be able to say if this prohibition against Fed participation is arbitrary or not, were it to take place in California.
"In general usage ethical is used to describe standards of behavior between individuals, while moral or immoral can describe any behavior. You can call lying unethical or immoral, for example, because it involves the behavior of one person and how it affects another, but violating dietary prohibitions in a holy text can only be described as immoral."
> Although the words can be considered synonyms, morals are beliefs based on practices or teachings regarding how people conduct themselves in personal relationships and in society, while ethics refers to a set or system of principles, or a philosophy or theory behind them. (Principles, however, is itself is a synonym for morals.) One lives according to one’s morals but adheres to one’s ethics while doing so. Morals are the tools by which one lives, and ethics constitute the manual that codifies them.
which oddly conflicts with yours. This confusion is perhaps why I generally fail to make the distinction.
"Corporations are people, my friend".
If I apply to companies A and B, where A is ethical and B is unethical, but only B offers me a job, which I accept, have I freely chosen my employer? Let's assume these are the only companies available.
It may or may not be a good idea to do so, but the organizers of a private gathering may exclude whom they wish; the nature of ones employer is not an unethical standard for exclusion.
Not that I defend mass government surveillance, I'm just tired of that pseudo-argument.
It's simply a facile argument that weakens the real arguments against mass state surveillance.
For example, while I oppose it on philosophical grounds, I don't see an NSA operator exploiting my email credential for any personal purpose.
It's perfectly possible to be crushed by a system without any of those operating the levers knowing or feeling anything personally about you. Systemic exploitation, a corrupt system if you will, is hardly better than corrupt individuals within a system, and the most horrific things in history all were rather apersonal, that's kinda what allowed them to reach an otherwise impossible scale, ferocity and longevity.
People distrusting people while trusting faceless agencies is the problem, not the solution.
How on earth can you make that argument? Ostensibly, by giving him the credentials you trust something to keep your privacy private. With the feds, you have no choice.
Employers are kinda made up of the people that work for them. Any attempts to disassociate the two shall fail.
So yes, humanity is better when people actually have experience consequences for their actions -- instead of hiding behind other people, or symbols even, like "employer".
We're not talking about being mean to people because of their skin color, or not selling them ice cream because they're working for the Mafia. We're talking not selling them weapons, and not letting them buy you drinks and whatnot, because they're working for the Mafia. That's exactly appropriate.
What's next, not "discriminating" against people because they are running marathons for the Rapists Association, even though they're not rapists themselves? Boo-hoo, really.
You're making a mockery out of the word "discrimination" here. You're equating withdrawing support from those who do harm with being mean to handicapped people and whatnot: Fuck that, utterly and completely.
Can you leave free speech out of this.
Returning to the main point, the bigger problem with discriminating based on employer is that employers are very large entities. We cannot expect everyone to know everything their employer is doing, let alone be responsible or actively contributing to it. Also, as dalke points out, there is legal precedent precident that discrimination based on employers is discrimination (specifically the ACLU kicked out a non-uniformed unannounced police officer). Granted this was only a violation of (California) state law, but the law had a specific list of protected classes, and employer was not on it.
Maybe, if you could kindly explain what you mean by that, because I don't get it.
the bigger problem with discriminating based on employer is that employers are very large entities. We cannot expect everyone to know everything their employer is doing, let alone be responsible or actively contributing to it
There are over a hundred hours of Adolf Eichmann trials on Youtube. Watch any one of them, provided it contains him defending himself. So if the bigger problem is a complete non-issue, what does that say about the smaller ones?
Also, as dalke points out, there is legal precedent precident that discrimination based on employers is discrimination (specifically the ACLU kicked out a non-uniformed unannounced police officer). Granted this was only a violation of (California) state law, but the law had a specific list of protected classes, and employer was not on it.
What is legal or not might be an issue for the organizers, granted, but personally I care more about what is right and what isn't. So if they break the laws for this, more power to them; if they can find a loophole, also fine. Private clubs can invite whoever they fuck they want, for example; this wouldn't be very practical, but there's nearly always a way.
Presumably this is not the case if it is known what an employer is doing, although when it is not known what an employer is doing, discrimination based on employer would seem uncommon.
I know that I didn't make the distinction between legal and illegal until later on, so maybe you didn't see it.
In the US and the UK employment law descends from the masters and servants act - Note the term.
Ever since we decided "just following orders" isn't a valid excuse.
Can we stick to discrimination against the employees of legal employers in one's own state that one recognizes as legitimate and one is not in active rebellion against?
It's certainly not a good excuse to go ignoring important lessons in history. Nazi Germany is one of the better examples of why "just doing my job" is not a valid excuse for anything.
However, this seems to imply that all American hackers/entrepreneurs/etc.need to move to remote cabins in Montana and stop contributing to society, because anyone who contributes to society in America is directly supporting this system (albeit, 1 degree removed from those working directly for the government).
I currently don't know a way around this problem, and I don't actually want to stop being productive. I've had this on my mind for a while. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Build new tools to protect privacy. Advance encryption technology faster. Build new communication software to keep the NSA out. The list is practically infinite and applies to nearly every segment of web / internet / mobile / pc.
No it doesn't. He's making the same argument terrorists sometimes use to justify their actions. We're not innocent -- that by paying taxes, voting, and otherwise being a member of our society, we're culpable for what that society chooses to do.
You don't get to pick and choose what your taxes fund; in large part, that's the whole point of taxation.
When I am in a room, I contribute to the humidity of that room. Now imagine me turning on the faucet or boiling some water.... and then saying "I can't turn them off, it would make no sense, I would contribute to the humidity either way!".
I'll just go ahead and say if people can't think at all, so that they only know the difference between "nothing exists" and "everything is the same", then whatever they're building can't be that good, and chances are great we'd be better of without it.
I have thought long and hard about that underlying argument and at the end of the day I both could not find a flaw with it, and was subsequently compelled to become a globally nomadic anarcho capitalist, just to avoid being forced to contribute to what amounts to only a fairly tame by comparison lackey of the US.
I totally hear what you saying and as a matter of fact, I used to be very depressed by this. And maybe I'm being a coward. But I also think that billions of people need to be organized somewhat to live together, even millions or thousands. We need plumbing, we need roads, hospitals, and even taxes. To some degree, at least. I mean, come on, even though there are bad doctors, it's kinda cool that I can just look one up in the yellow pages and have a great chance of getting competent treatment. Or eat fast food without dying of salmonella or something. It's not perfect, but I don't want medieval times back either. Yeah, I'm probably a coward ^^
Still, to me the problem isn't so much that there is government, but that it's not a mechanism for people to govern themselves, but like something external we accept to be broken and our enemy, instead of us. That it's a shitty government, run by people who wanted to get in for all the wrong reasons - instead of by everyone, all the time. Mr. Taxman , who just lies to you before election and there is fuck all anyone can do.
As Chomsky said, governments have one "defect", they are theoretically democratic -- corporations have no defect, they're pure tyrannies. So unless you become some kind of super inventor / investor, and so rich that you and others of your calibre could really move things around, well.. you'd still have your voice I guess. And that might be enough, there are surely ways to not pay into the wrong hands and still affect people, so I'm not knocking it at all. If you can pull it off, good luck! And write a book/blog about it, too.
This is a really interesting story, and I'm going to be giving it a lot of thought. One problem for me is that I do computer science research (I'm a grad student), and I'd like to keep doing something somewhere similar after I graduate (but self-employed), but if you're working on generic low-level computer stuff that can be re-used by everybody ad infinitum, the state will use it. I'm not a Linux kernel developer, for example, but that's a good analogy. I don't see a good way to stop supporting the state without giving up on doing computer science research. I'd appreciate any thoughts.
So, you don't have to pay taxes (except for things like sales tax) to any state? As an American, I think I'd have to renounce my citizenship (they still make you pay taxes when you are overseas), which would probably have a number of negative impacts for me personally, such as possibly making travel difficult.
Overall, I'm not so sure that I agree with your conclusions, but I'm still thinking about it. Yes, I am supporting the state, but not willingly, and not quietly (though I am not vocal about my opposition to the system in my corporeal life, which wouldn't do any good anyway in my work environment, and would probably do much harm). Actually, I'm the victim. Is a Jew working in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany morally obligated to commit suicide rather than try to ride out the war? I would say "no," and I would tentatively say that about the actual situation I am in, for the same reasons.
My bigger concern about supporting the system as I do is that it is self-defeating (of myself). In the limit (i.e., in communism), there is no possibility for productive labor, because 100% of your earnings will be taken by the government and used against you. We are not in that situation. Still, US government action seems to be moving in the direction of making it impossible to start and run small businesses; this is already the case in some sectors, like telecom. When all there are, are large corporate giants under tight regulatory control (which is literally the model adopted by Hitler and Mussolini), we are all worker drones; it would be equally (un)productive for me personally to work a a cashier at Wal-Mart as it would be to be a software engineer. (Because you get paid approximately the same in both cases and true innovation is illegal or impossiblein both cases.) I fear that we are not all that far from that situation.
If you disapprove of anything about a business, it turns out that you can actually choose not to support them economically. When you make this choice they lack the ability to send thugs in costume around to kidnap/torture/murder you.
Further, if enough people in a free market agree with your evaluation of that business, it will actually stop existing rather than grow larger and larger fuelled by continuously increasing external security threats and various other negative externalities provoked by the kinds of things that aggravated you about it in the first place.
Fascinating stuff. These incentives for behaviour are responsible for some amazing feats throughout history, too. When you can't just kill people for refusing to support you, you often end up needing to provide actual value.
Not always mind you, some particularly unscrupulous businesses can become joined at the hip with the state and feed from the same larcenous trough, but at that stage it's hard to actually distinguish where they end and the state begins, thus your normal actions to avoid support to the state hit this particular shambling hybrid just as hard.
That's actually the difference between state and non state actors typically speaking, one you don't get to tell you're not interested in without risk of death. Mindblowingly complex stuff I know.
But you have already stated that you oppose even indirect contributions to government. Why the contradiction? Do you oppose indirect support to things that take actions you disapprove of, or not?
Knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly... these lay on difference axises.
I could excuse those who unknowingly willingly contribute to an atrocity (Paul Stabenow of the Tesch & Stabenow corporation is arguably an example). The unknowing unwilling are similarly hard to blame. Examples for this escape me at the moment though I am certain that there are examples in history of people compelled to work who did not know what they were contributing to. If I had to guess, I would say that workers for the Tesch & Stabenow corporation in the company's later years could perhaps fit this category.
Examples of the knowing unwilling could be the workers at Mittelwerk. They knew what they were contributing to and were forced to continue. Knowing willing could arguably include Wernher von Braun, though some would (mistakenly, I think) put him on the edge of knowingly unwillingly.
Likewise blissful ignorance is no excuse (in an indirect world) for being unaware of the reasonable impact or influence of your allocation of capital. Otherwise there's no reason to complain of indirectly helping the government by paying taxes, for all I know every single penny of my tax money could have gone to provide food for the needy and beds for the homeless and it's just your taxes that are going toward funding guns and NSA.
The whole idea that one must know that some corporations are shadier than others belies the very question I asked, since one could willingly contribute to only those aspects of government which are considered good and to none of the other ones (which are considered bad, knowingly or unknowingly).
OP has rejected that argument in its entirety though; there is no way to claim unknowing and unwilling support of bad government in that view, so why should it be permissible to unknowingly and unwillingly support bad corporations?
It's a collective pool to which you contribute which is used for both purposes, you bear some responsibility for both actions by extension.
> since one could willingly contribute to only those aspects of government which are considered good and to none of the other ones (which are considered bad, knowingly or unknowingly).
No, they couldn't, your option to contribute to the state is violently coerced and the allocation after it is violently coerced is out of your hands. You can play games imagining your money went to a nurse instead of a CIA black ops mission to overthrow a popular foreign leader and prop up the interests of your state in the region, but at the end of the day that's all that is, a game.
> so why should it be permissible to unknowingly and unwillingly support bad corporations?
It isn't; you are responsible for the repercussions of that 99c hamburger, act accordingly. You're right that's the only consistent position, and you're right that it implies that people are responsible for the actions of the entities and organisations which they support.
If you simply ignore material reality and obvious facts so you can ignore having to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes from contributing directly to behaviour you despise, then you're once again just playing games. It's your responsibility to make your decisions and your responsibility to examine the repercussions of those decisions, I understand that the concept of personal responsibility is completely alien to the vast majority of statist humans in existence, but that doesn't stop it being the only path I am able to accept.
The knowingly or unknowingly bit gets slightly harder however since it's not completely beyond the realm of imagination that you might trust a party with which you choose to do business to behave in accordance with your expectations and standards. However, the difference there is, once it becomes clear they've violated that trust, you retain the option to cease your dealings with them.
No matter how many times the state violates that trust, you do not acquire that option, your option is the same as it was to begin with, serve or die.
You do have options though. Go somewhere that has no state, convince the people to disestablish the state (oh, and somehow prevent them from re-establishing one), or go somewhere that has a state that you would be willing to serve.
Hey if you don't like your gang just join another one. Or convince all the other gangsters to quit the gang and all people everywhere to never start a gang again. But don't think for a minute you can stop following orders from the Don.
I wish I could tell you the world was different, but it's not. We live in a real world, not an utopia. No matter where you go there will be some variant of the 'despot with a stick', whether they call themselves guv'nah or not.
Actually, I'm not making that argument. This may be a subtle difference that is not important for this discussion, though.
My argument is that as a victim of the US government, it doesn't make sense to keep supporting the system that is victimizing me. All the work I do in my life will be approximately 1 step forward, 1 step back.
(Quite literally, as the tax rate is probably roughly around 50% in all, though I don't really mean it in that sense.)
Sort of. I illegally decided to refuse to pay my taxes to the federal government, and instead payed extra taxes to my state government.
Now if your government finally does take a stand on the banking issue and tells US authorities to take a hike I would be more inclined to have similar faith in your nation as you do.
Imagine you're in a room you can't get out of. By the nature of aerobic respiration, you're slowly transforming all the oxygen into carbon dioxide. Now imagine there is a running car in the room with you. Do you first shut off the car to prevent it from filling up the room with exhaust and carbon monoxide, or do you give up because there's no point in life?
You can either give up by selling all your belongings and begin to live on the street as a non-tax paying citizen, or you can do something to stop the things that are taking away your freedoms and liberties, or at the very least, do something to make it harder for those that want to take away your freedoms to do so.
I suffer from depression and have had times in life where suicide is a real option, yet I can't imagine how anyone can think "welp, I better give up now because there isn't a point in trying!" There's always an option. Exercise that option.
False dichotomy, there are other options that both don't lend any legitimacy to the state and allow you to live a pretty good life these days. Especially for people with technically advanced skillets. The world is much bigger than the tax farm you were born in which claims dominion over you, and outside the borders of that farm, its powers are greatly diminished.
 Obviously there are exemptions for foreign earned income, but if you're in country with lower tax than the US (of which there are a fair amount) you could end up paying the US taxes on money that has literally nothing to do with them. Worse, if you're married to a native of that country and must file jointly in the new country then the US expects you to file jointly with them too and pay taxes on your spouses earning.
Like what? (Last time I asked this question on HN I got about 5 answers that said "Call your Congressman," which I don't agree with.) I honestly don't believe there's anything I can do that would change things meaningfully, even if I dedicated my whole life to it, short of maybe starting a major political movement, which I highly doubt I'd be able to do.
Even simply refusing to join these organizations doesn't help as much as you might think. NSA can teach smart people to program if it comes to that, so there's always someone to fill the seat. Only now, the person filling that seat has ethical norms even farther away from yours.
Also, for what? So the rest can hide behind them? Because that's what effectively happens. Very little change, very great excuse. We couldn't even discuss police brutality here without some people moaning about how some cop or other is a decent person, as if generalizing to make a point is somehow worse than shooting unarmed people.
Not that I don't hear the point you're trying to make, I used to think that too, I don't anymore. When something is past the point of return, just throwing people at it won't turn it around, it just wastes perfectly good people. I'd rather lean on the assholes who currently work for assholes, to stop being assholes, than send non-assholes into that grinder.
This was announced before this post by DT though.
Is there any way to get use out of it that doesn't include 'booze-fueled and partying'. I have no problem with booze, but I definitely dislike partying. Yes, I'm a wet blanket, but if the partying atmosphere is where the use comes from, I would seriously be uninterested.
I know that actually does limit the networking part too.
I much prefer to hang at the bars on the casino floor and talk to whoever comes around. They let you smoke, the music is better and less deafening, and you'll meet more interesting people.
There's a big element at DEFCON of people who read way too many Neal Stephenson novels, got a utilikilt and a mohawk, and are roleplaying as haxxors. Escape that. Find interesting talks. Find feds, because they're getting paid to do security work and are often damn good at it. Don't feel like you have to go to every talk.
Sure, you can check out the talks, wander around the venue (CTF, vendor booths, etc), talk to people. The "partying" isn't as rampant as some may have you believe. Sure there are parties, but it's not like you will be dragged into one. They also appear to be non-inclusive. I know I wasn't invited to any last year (and I'm no wet towel! ;). In fact, I was uninvited to one (you can't come; it's "private"). There is still plenty to get out of going and plenty of fun to be had.
Getting into parties is half the fun! I remember the times I social engineered my way into the Ninja party. Humans are so insecure...
p.s. even if you don't drink, the quickest way to make friends at defcon is to give someone free alcohol. the goons also appreciate free beverages.
I guess it depends on what you consider a 'fed.' Is a sysadmin at NASA a Fed? They are employed by the federal government...
Law enforcement--especially intelligence--is not going to be particularly well received this year. In the years I've attended, it's always a friendly sort of cat and mouse game. "You're the Fed, I'm the hacker, let's get a beer!" What with PRISM and domestic surveillance, though, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a serious effort by the con to reduce drama and distance itself from the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
Is General Alexander still keynoting Black Hat?
Despite practically being in bed together, and all that is supposed to change just like that? It seems like some sick joke, from the outside looking in of course…
Then again, it has more or less always been this way and maybe things seem different now that the tide has receded a bit…
There appears to be a distinct effort to separate BH and DC this year, there is less speaker overlap compared with previous years, attendance to BH doesn't get you in to DC like it used to, etc. This is probably UBM (owners of the BH brand) trying to protect their revenue.
More of a PR effort to salvage the brand than a joke, I'd guess.
In light of recent events, this is not an opportune time for recruiting and so the feds will not be attending the conference in their usual numbers. However, they will of course still be monitoring all communcations at the event, so they will be there in spirit.
In the early years, DefCon founder Jeff Moss used to say "if you're 20 and you're working for The Man, you're a loser,"... "Ten years ago, Moss said 'if you're 30 and you're not working for The Man, you're a loser.' And now he agreed that at 40 he is The Man.'"
This is a complete farce as one of the key speakers last year was Gen Keith Alexander. NSA was fairly open about recruiting directly from DefCon and DefCon leadership had no problem with it. Anyone with even a slight security background could have predicted Prism and other programs just by the AT&T whistleblower from the mid 2000's.
DefCon is just too big, too mainstream for any real technical value. I don't need to fly to Vegas to watch umpteen panel discussions with crazy EFF people.
At too many defcons I have seen nonsense panel discussions and presentations by people with little qualifications. Some presentations I have seen have obviously been created one or two nights beforehand. I've even seen a troll presentation where slides with walls of text were read word for word in a monotone voice.
I have no idea who this person is or how old this list is and I have not attended every one of these conferences but you might take a look at this:
Source: I asked a Fed.
But the request is deliberately creating a delineation: the government is no longer for the people or part of the people, it exists for it's own sake.
Will the government understand and ramp itself down?
Whatever you thought about Ron Paul, his politics would have prevented all of this. All of the wars. All the foreign aid. And we would live in paradise ;)
This made me laugh. Considering how much Republicans and Tea Partiers are ostracized for making cuts, just imagine how much people would come down on a fiscally conservative basically Libertarian candidate in 2016 (even if he runs as a Republican).
My parents both work and make money and the only real benefits that they have gotten as a result of trillions spent on war is that they'll continue to pay taxes for the rehabilitation of the soldiers whose bodies and lives have been destroyed.
They MIGHT collect on social security, etc but given that they're still at least 10 years from retirement, it's certainly nothing they can count on.
Both my parents have "retired" in the past year though they continue to work for money, and they were both a little bitter about how low the benefits are. I had to point out that at least they will probably get what they get. For those of us younger?
If two people are making a combined $120k/year their tax burden is around $27k. With 10-15 years to go til retirement that's another $270-$405k in gross savings, neglecting any ability to earn interest (which right now is effectively 0%).
I don't know what the social security pay-out rates are these days but $300k today versus a decreasing probability of future benefit payments from the SSA seems like a reasonable risk to take, given the choice. Not that we'll ever have the choice, mind you.
X wants A.
X also wants B.
Therefore, if X gets A, X will also get B.
That doesn't work.
> Losing social security AND the income tax would likely be a net win for middle aged working folk like my parents.
Your analysis seems to be pretty shallow on this, particularly, it seems presume that the income tax can go away with everything else operating as is with no effect except taxpayers not paying the tax.
If it were possible for the general population to somehow wake up and realize that Social Security is a ponzi scheme and that it's not sustainable long term (not good odds that will happen, mind you) then it's ENTIRELY conceivable that said people might listen to the "income tax isn't constitutional" argument as well.
The political landscape would have to be so incredibly different for social security to go away I can't even really comprehend it. You can speculate that people wouldn't both abolish social security AND the income tax. I speculate that such a thing could reasonably happen. We'll never actually find out who's right.
Sure, but the ability to build a minimum winning coalition on eliminating social security is pretty much irrelevant to finding a minimum winning coalition on eliminating income tax.
> If it were possible for the general population to somehow wake up and realize that Social Security is a ponzi scheme and that it's not sustainable long term
Its not possible for them to "wake up and realize" that because its not true, but its certainly possible for them to be convinced of that; indeed, that's a fairly common idea (at least, if you take out the "ponzi scheme" part) now. What is less common is the idea that the best way of dealing with that is to eliminate the program entirely rather than addressing features that make it nonsustainable. 
> then it's ENTIRELY conceivable that said people might listen to the "income tax isn't constitutional" argument as well.
Sure, its entirely conceivable that people might listen to that argument. That's a bit different saying that it is likely that he would also be able to eliminate the income tax (there is a big gap between "conceivable" and "likely" and another big gap between "listen to" and "agree with".)
> The political landscape would have to be so incredibly different for social security to go away I can't even really comprehend it.
I have no problem with that description, but that's an argument against any assertion you might make about what would be likely in that case, not an argument for it.
> You can speculate that people wouldn't both abolish social security AND the income tax.
I could, but I haven't. A statement that your claim that a particular outcome is likely is not supported by the argument you have presented for it is not a claim that the outcome is impossible.
> I speculate that such a thing could reasonably happen.
There's a difference between speculating that a thing "could reasonably happen" and asserting, as you did previously, that it is likely.
 E.g., http://www.gallup.com/poll/1693/social-security.aspx
You're basically arguing that the status quo is, and always will be, the predominant way of the world working unless a person can provide direct evidence to the contrary in a big way. I get that, and it makes a lot of sense. I generally feel the same way.
What I'm trying to suggest is that the world where social security gets eliminated is so different that your assertion that the status quo is, doesn't hold. You'll probably disagree with me on that issue but ultimately there's no way for us to know either way. It's all speculation. The evidence that I would give to support such a notion is that when serious political change happens, it often happens in a big way.
I think it's highly likely that the only way social security could get eliminated is some kind of a revolution, peaceful or not. Since there are so many people who currently benefit from social security right now having paid very little in (they like the program) and plenty of people who paid in their entire working lives (they desperately want to get their money out of it) that they constitute a large entrenched interest.
You're saying that the minimum amount of energy to get this 1000 ton rock moved from point A to point B doesn't imply that the other 1000 ton rock right next to it would go anywhere at all. I'm suggesting that for a rock that friggin huge to get moved there's some kind of bigger thing happening like a landslide, an earthquake, a big explosion, etc and thus, perhaps it might.
No, I am arguing that arguments of the form "if X occurs, its likely that Y will also occur" need to be justified by more than "X would take a radically different world, and Y occuring would be conceivably plausible in such a radically different world, therefore, it is likely that Y will occur if X occurs."
> What I'm trying to suggest is that the world where social security gets eliminated is so different that your assertion that the status quo is, doesn't hold.
I haven't made any such assertion. I have simply argued that you have failed to provide anything that remotely approaches support for you claim that it is likely that income tax would be eliminated if social security was eliminated.
> The evidence that I would give to support such a notion is that when serious political change happens, it often happens in a big way.
Even granting, arguendo, that point and your belief that social security takes a "revolution", that's not evidence in support of the likelihood of any particular currently-unlikely change being made possible by the situation that enables the elimination of social security.
> Since there are so many people who currently benefit from social security right now having paid very little in
The only people who have substantial SS benefits while paying very little in are the lower-earning surviving spouses of people who paid in and then died, so I think your premise here is a bit dubious.
> You're saying that the minimum amount of energy to get this 1000 ton rock moved from point A to point B doesn't imply that the other 1000 ton rock right next to it would go anywhere at all.
No, I'm not. A better analogy would be saying that I am rejecting the claim that the mere fact that it would take a quite substantial minimum energy to move the 1000 ton rock from point A to point be justifies a claim of the specific path a neighboring rock would be likely to take in the event the first rock was moved from point A to point B.
I'm not sure that the money on wars is well spent (even in a callous, dollars only sense) if it's saving the average household $4k a year in gas money (two cars).
Transportation costs are embedded in the cost of every physical good.
The capital investment necessary to make trains work at all is really big. But after that the marginal cost of an additional car is very low. In terms of energy efficiency, trains are much better than trucks. What they lack is convenience, at least right now.
In terms of cost, trucks often win because the trucking company doesn't bear the burden of building/maintaining the highway system. Yes they pay fuel taxes, but trucks make basically all the wear on roads. Wear seems to be based on the fourth power of weight. Check this: http://facweb.knowlton.ohio-state.edu/pviton/courses2/crp776...
This is a common theme for basically everything having to do with energy efficiency. You can have low up-front cost and larger ongoing costs, or larger up-front costs and lower ongoing costs. In the case of trains the ongoing costs are similar at current fuel prices but once they double again you'll see more train cargo and less truck cargo.
Building railway infrastructure was simpler when there was a lot of open country to build long straight lines through, but building a new line today is much harder with compulsory purchase of land and groups lobbying against it. The process takes a long time too, so elected officials won't see the benefits of backing it at the next election.
I think it is unlikely that US freight will move from road to rail without a significant amount of political and financial pressure.
The Pauls are fiscally conservative which is only 1/2 of the Libertarian equation. The party stands for social liberalism and fiscal conservatism. Basically this just means less tax, more privatized government services, and to leave people alone if they aren't hurting each other.
Small-"l" libertarians are those that believe the liberty of the people is most important, even more important than any social or ethical constraints that have been placed upon them, but they believe that there can be a government that can enforce this, unlike anarchists.
The Pauls are basically grandstanders. They'll adopt any pseudo-libertarian position that they think makes a good soundbite. They record will show that they haven't actually done much of legislative consequence. Anyone who takes them at face value based on the soundbites IMO needs to develop more of a sense of cynicism when assessing politics.
Ron Paul specifically had been talking for what, 20 years about auditing the federal reserve more than they were allowed. They finally got something through under someone else's name, but the victory was his.
The reason is that Ron Paul and his like cannot push through something on his own. The entrenched interests are way too powerful.
No, I am saying this ineffectiveness is motivated by lack of genuine interest. They're just opportunists, no better than any other.
His son is even more blatant about this, showing up at the last minute with tough questions when something is in the headlines, but not showing any signs of prior interest or following through. It gets him quoted in the news a lot, and a lot of support from people who aren't paying attention.
They are very willing to fall totally in line with the entrenched interests you mention. That they happen to be allowed token protest votes on stuff that won't be in serious danger is incidental.
That and... I guess being pro-life is a big libertarian position?
And maybe those people should go home and rethink their lives.
The narrower point being, of course, if you're involved in work that supports Constitutional violations, you should think about what you're doing. Hard. Because if your work supports these things, then you're destroying what you probably signed up to protect. Probably not your fault, the mission was hijacked. But now there's no way to pretend. So think about it, and ideally, act.
And if you're just designing tollbooth security, then thanks for your service. :)
Well, even things like PRISM have valid Constitutional and national security usages. Things like metadata collection have been allowed for decades as well, under the auspices of valid law enforcement investigations.
Holding all Internet traffic in a buffer for 5 years? Collecting all email metadata that passes by? Now that's getting risky, but how many people do you think are actually involved in that? And why is that less dangerous than CALEA (something which DEFCON didn't kick out the Feds for...)?
If you flip the concept to instead be "could what I'm working on possibly be used for oppression" then there are a lot more government workers than you might think that would have to be introspective.
It has the worse effect of muddying lines of responsibility ("I couldn't have done this bad thing if $FOO hadn't build it!"), which is another path we don't want to go down... the same logic that blames the analyst for creating a process with valid purpose and bad effect could be used to blame the HR rep for hiring the analyst, or the janitor for keeping his workspace clean. And all the while we should be pointing our fingers at the person who actually did something wrong!
So? I work for a private company. I 'report back' on the cool shit I saw, let people know what was around, what was popular, etc. It's a learning experience. Saying they 'report back' is useless. If you go to a con and don't talk with other people about the stuff you saw there it's almost wasteful.
I think I know what you meant though - they go and see what all the 'underground hackers' are up to.
There's also OHM running in parallel, which will draw off some of the European attendees (probably not law enforcement/intel, though). If I got to pick between OHM and PW/BS/BH/DC (all 4 running in Las Vegas that week), I'd probably pick Ohm.
(I've never been; I presume it is like most other conferences and you've got a slough of bored recruiters staffing info booths?)
Calling the situation ironic because DT is a fed is unrelated - he may work for the government, but he isn't in a position that has a conflict of interest with a hacker conference (read: he doesn't work for the NSA). If you say "Dark Tangent" to a person in the security community, people recognize him as the creator of a hacker conference; not a government employee.
Now I'm curious on how government agencies will respond. They may go anyway -- and have to deal with a very unwelcoming mood, or respect the request and give some space for the sec community to discuss the case more openly.
I, for one, fully support DT's request, and really hope the feds understand that the problem is not who they are or what they represent, but their tactics and methods recently exposed.
They can't expect to be welcomed anywhere, given the obvious abuses that are happening against U.S. Citizens (and everyone else, for the matter), under the excuse of "war on terrorism".
> recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship.
They just don't want to deal with fed vs. non-fed tensions at the con. Maybe they're afraid fights would break out.
For "has", neither Congress nor Nevada has attempted to make discrimination based on employer illegal, in a place of public accommodation or otherwise. There can be no illegal discrimination when there is no relevant law, making the case moot from its inception.
And even if they had attempted such (that is, we move to the "can" analysis), we know from the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Hurley that it's difficult to do even where there is an entanglement of public and private interests, the harm to the private interests is extremely attenuated, and the excluded group is arguably quasi-suspect.