SAN FRANCISCO — In a surprise opening session at RSA 2019, cryptographer Adi Shamir, known as “the S in RSA” as one of the conference’s co-founders, appeared in a video recorded in Israel to decry the visa issues he faced.

“I applied for a renewal of my [U.S.] tourist visa more than two months ago, since then I haven’t heard anything. Not a yes, or a no, or a maybe.”

Shamir went on to say, “I’m a full member of the U.S. Academy of Science, a full member of the British Royal Society, a full member of the French Academy of Science. I’m a member of the Israel Academy of Science. I have received the Turing Prize, the Japan Prize, the Israel Prize, and numerous other prizes. If someone like me cannot get a visa to enter the U.S. to give a keynote at the major conference in his field, and since others are having similar problems, perhaps it’s time we rethink the question of how, and especially where, we organize our major scientific conferences.”

Another panelist on the RSA Conference Cryptographers’ Panel, Shafi Goldwasser of the University of California at Berkeley, said “There are other researchers who haven’t got a visa and there is no word of any progress. It’s unclear who is in charge.” A ripple of uneasy laughter was heard throughout the 1,000-plus audience.

Reaction to Shamir’s exclusion from the event was shared on Twitter by other RSA attendees.

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George Pajari
George Pajari is a “CISO-for-hire”, providing cybersecurity leadership to SaaS cloud startups. He was previously the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Hootsuite, the most widely used social media management platform with over 15 million users including more than 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies. He was responsible for information security, IS risk management, and IT general controls. Prior to that he was the Security Architect at Hootsuite, and before that, Manager of Network Operations for Glentel's national digital radio service. He is a member of the BC Government's Provincial Security Advisory Council, a member of the Vancouver (ISC)² Chapter executive, and one of the organisers of the Vancouver BSides and BC AWARE Day security conferences. He was invited by the (ISC)² to write the Security Architecture and Engineering section for the next edition of the Official (ISC)² Guide to the CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge), to be published by John Wiley in 2019. George's professional certifications include the CISSP-ISSAP, CISM, and CIPP/E. He is learning to play the bagpipes and his paper on a new device for improving piping skills will appear in a forthcoming issue of Piping Times.