In the news media we talk about an event being a one-day wonder.
The allegation last month that security vendor RSA was paid US$10 million by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to help make it easier for the electronic spy agency to get into encrypted data has had more than a one-day effect.
The first reaction was when F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen refused to speak at RSA’s upcoming annual security conference. But according to Computerworld U.S., seven other speakers have also cancelled talks or panel presentations.
They include Mozilla’s privacy chief Alex Fowler, Google security researchers Adam Langely and Chris Palmer; special counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Marcia Hofmann and Christopher Soghoian, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.
RSA is a division of EMC Corp. It’s just one of a number of highly visible American high-tech companies caught up in revelations from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. News media are now combing through them and their sources to find more information on the capabilities of Western electronic spy agencies and whether some of the biggest names in IT are helping them get around laws people think protect data from unwarranted government snooping.
So far the Canadian, U.S. and British governments have largely maintained that anything their spy agencies do is authorized by law.
The chair of the RSA Conference is quoted as protesting the speaker withdrawals, arguing that the meeting is separate from the company. However, it may be another sign — along with the meeting last month of IT vendors with U.S. president Barak Obama — that the information technology industry resistance is stiffening.