A report by The New York Times alleges that organizers of last week’s RSA Conference in San Francisco attempted to disrupt plans for an alternate conference dubbed TrustyCon, which was organized by speakers who opted to boycott RSAC.
Plans for TrustyCon was set in motion in response to allegations that RSA had entered into an illicit contract with the National Security Agency to weaken their widely used encryption algorithms in order to allow the intelligence agency to “backdoor” the security protocol.
The report claims that RSAC representatives repeatedly called the management at the facility TrustyCon was to be held, warning them not to allow the event to take place.
“The organizers of a rival conference, called TrustyCon, which was organized following revelations that RSA had been paid by the N.S.A., said they had spent much of the past weekend persuading executives from the Metreon – another big, downtown center next to the Moscone – not to kick them out of their conference space. The Metreon was set to house the TrustyCon conference on Thursday but Metreon’s management began to grow concerned after they received calls from RSA’s conference organizers,” the NYT report stated.
“The RSA organizers warned the Metreon that TrustyCon attendees were arranging a huge boycott on their premises. In the end, the TrustyCon conference was able to proceed Thursday without a hitch.”
In 2012, RSAC officials put a tremendous amount of pressure on the organizers of Security BSides San Francisco, an alternate conference that forgoes the frills and expense of it’s larger counterpart, which was to take place across the street.
“The RSA Conference is enforcing the non-compete clause in their sponsor and exhibitor agreements, that means a written waiver is required for an RSA Conference sponsor/exhibitor to hold or participate in anything RSAC feels is ‘competing’ within five miles of the RSA Conference (their definition of ‘competing’ is pretty broad, too),” wrote BSides Board of Director’s member Jack Daniel at the time.
TrustyCon was only slated to allow about 400 attendees, a mere fraction of the 20,00 plus expected to attend RSAC. Nevertheless, any and all competition – no matter how miniscule – seems to make RSAC organizers feel threatened.
“It would be great if you politely let RSA know that supporting the community is not a bad thing. They really don’t need to feel challenged by a free event drawing a few hundred people next to their commercial event drawing well over 10,000,” Daniel had said.