Multiple industry experts have reportedly withdrawn from next month’s highly regarded RSA Conference in San Francisco due to reports of the sponsor’s controversial and deliberate use of “flawed encryption technology“, according to an article published by ABC News. The article states that approximately “eight researchers or policy experts” have pulled out of the conference after the sponsor, RSA Security, reportedly purposefully used this technology in commercially released software to “allow the National Security Agency to spy more easily on computer users.”
Claims of “intentionally introducing the flawed encryption algorithm” have been disputed by RSA – and their parent company, EMC Corporation – but they continue to refuse comments about the reported published information describing a “$10 million government contract“, according to the article. As the article states,”The revelation supplemented documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showing that the NSA tried to weaken Internet encryption.” Industry professionals, including technology specialists, researchers and experts on policy have “complained that the government’s surveillance efforts have, in some cases, weakened Internet security even for innocent users“, according to the article.
The RSA Conference will host 560 speakers, according to the article, but it has not been confirmed if those individuals who are still preparing to attend and present information would be discussing the controversy. One of the conference organizers, Hugh Thompson of Blue Coat Systems, was quoted in the article to say that the conference is “an open venue where people can talk openly about security.” In a discussion via social media regarding reasons for withdrawing from the event, a researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Christopher Soghoian, was also quoted to say that he had “given up waiting for RSA to fess up to the truth“, according to the report. Even after reports of these cancellations, conference organizers still expect “more participants than the 24,000 who showed up last year“, according to the article.