OK, so we have already beat to death the fact that FireEye invited a politician as conference keynote speaker who has demonstrated actions antithetical to all principles of cybersecurity and self-declared herself notably ignorant on technology.
Now, we learn from Tech Crunch that Black Hat has DISINVITED a politician as their keynote speaker with actual cybersecurity chops and positive legislative actions to improve cybersecurity in the USA., because some in the BH community disagree with his moral and legal positions on a social issue totally unrelated to cybersecurity.
From the 6/13/2019 article
"A decision to confirm Rep. Will Hurd as the keynote speaker at the Black Hat security conference this year has prompted anger and concern by some long-time attendees because of his voting record on women’s rights.
Hurd, an outspoken Texas Republican who has drawn fire from his own party for regularly opposing the Trump administration, was confirmed as keynote speaker at the conference Thursday for his background in cybersecurity."
Followed by the 6/14/2019 article
where we read
"Rep. Will Hurd will no longer give the keynote address at the Black Hat security conference amid questions about his voting record on women’s rights."
and Tech Crunch quoted Black Hat:
“Black Hat has chosen to remove U.S. Representative Will Hurd as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote. We misjudged the separation of technology and politics,” said a statement. “We will continue to focus on technology and research, however we recognize that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker.”
Is this how society learns and progresses with new knowledge and processes to use that knowledge?
To answer your question, yes.
And more so in the US than in other countries.
This is highly annoying, but to those of us who see this from the sidelines, it is not at all surprising.
While I understand the frustration of some for an individual being disinvited for something completely out of the realm of the environment, I would say it is NOT completely out of the environment, at least here in the US. There remains a significant shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals, and we see the impacts of that every single day in the news. Cybersecurity is a very male dominated industry, and has been for a while. To close that gap is going to require the largest poll of candidates possible, to find the good ones, why would the community and profession want to tick off 50% of potential candidates, and confirm the suspicions that the profession is a boy's club? We always ask people to think holistically when it comes to security, we need to look at physical, social engineering, technical, etc. You have to see this similarly, while the technical aspects may be clear, what is the side channel message being sent, and is it in the community's best interest?
Of course technology is politicized. If money is involved, which it always is when it comes to Capital Hill, then the political wrangling is not far behind.
Two very bad decisions were made. The first was to invite someone who certainly doesn't deserve it and then to dis-invite someone who certainly didn't deserve to be scrutinized for something that most of Capital Hill fails on.
I'm sure litmus tests are being realigned even as we type for the next large event.