An Open Letter to Defcon Hackers: Don’t Sell Out to the NSA
Training oneself to become a hacker and then working for the NSA is like graduating law school with an emphasis in environmental law and then working for BP.
Word on the internet is that the National Security Agency (NSA)—of which I’m sure you’re well aware—has very publicly stated it’s setting up shop at Defcon alongside corporations to recruit hackers to the dark side.
As reported by Reuters, Richard “Dickie” George, technical director of the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate (cyber defense wing)–we’ll henceforth call him Simply Dick—is looking to recruit you to work on the “hardest problems on Earth.” They’re appealing to your ego, your vanity. Simply Dick is looking for hackers only in it for the game; those willing to become pro-state, or at least ideologically neutral.
In short, they are looking for those willing to sell out. The deal? No threat of prison and a steady paycheck doing the power’s bidding.
Let’s briefly consider some of the hard problems you’ll be working on. You’ll be part of an immense bureaucratic apparatus that operates in the United States, spying on its own citizens through warrantless wiretaps, except you won’t be wiretapping phones, you’ll be tapping American citizens’ emails, search results and other communications. And there are domestic projects that the NSA keep secret and thus beyond our current awareness.
Maybe some of you already hack average American citizens and you’ll have no problem doing such work for a government spy agency or a corporation. Then the NSA or Bank of America is probably where you belong. Good luck.
You’ll be disrupting state and individual sovereignty daily in foreign countries, all to ensure political, economic and military hegemony; though you will be told that it’s simply to combat terrorism. Maybe you’ll have some fun going after Chinese hackers, but couldn’t you just as easily do this from the comfort of your own home without a suit telling you what to do?
But none of this concerns me as much as the idea that people with the talent to hold government to account would so willingly join its ranks.
Those of us without hacking expertise do expect that some of you will work for the state, whether it’s because you’re ideologically neutral or you’re a patriot and want to smoke the evildoers out of their caves. But, we also hope far more of you won’t sell out—that you will maintain the counter-culture and grow it.
Indeed, we hope that most of you stay out of the NSA’s monolithic spy palace to keep the assholes in our government honest.
Simply Dick knows that you have the capabilities to check power or even threaten its very existence. Simply Dick is counting on the NSA’s power of persuasion.
Don’t let him whisper sweet nothings in your ears.
D. J. Pangburn