September 4, 2015 | By Aaron Jue

Cheers to Digital Freedom in Las Vegas

As we say goodbye to another summer of computer security conferences, we would like to take a moment to extend our thanks to the countless people who helped bolster civil liberties defense this year in Las Vegas. Organizers and attendees at Security BSides Las Vegas, Black Hat USA, DEF CON, and the kid-focused r00tz Asylum are all part of the ever-growing movement to defend digital freedom. As "hacking" loses some of its stigma, it serves us well to remember that at its core, hacking is about curiosity, problem-solving, and innovation. These key principles help ensure that technology can work in our favor and remains in our control.

Baby Hacker Faux-hawkEFF stood up for the users at a record number of talks and events this year. Presentations from our activists, legal team, and technologists delved into topics including encryption export controls, the U.S. government's mass surveillance, taking down DRM, and our game-changing SSL certificate authority Let's Encrypt. Through the Coders' Rights Project, EFF attorneys counseled numerous security researchers1 through the murky waters of tech law in preparation for this year's events. EFF participated officially in many on-site events, from the Crypto & Privacy Village to Mohawkcon's haircuts for charity. We also held our very first—and wildly successful—Badge Hack Pageant which will return next year. You can check out a collection of photos from our adventures on Facebook and Google+. Photo goon @cannibal has some great shots of the Badge Hack Pageant on his Flickr album. Special thanks to AST Cell's HackerPhotos.com!

While it is nigh impossible to name all of the ardent digital freedom supporters we meet at these events, we would like to thank some the groups and individuals who found creative ways to raise awareness and funds for EFF's work:

  • Black Hat for designating a portion of Business Hall pass sales to support digital rights.
  • Beard & Moustache Contest for including EFF and bringing the silliness.
  • EddieTheYeti for creating art with extra purpose.
  • Hack Fortress for using their talents to support online freedom.
  • Mohawcon for braving electrical outages and more with clippers and a smile.
  • Rapid7 for showing that open source really IS magic!
  • Wafflecon for using their sweets for good, not evil.
  • Wall of Sheep for their fantastic night-time auction.
  • The Goons for being helpful and generous with their time.

DC23 Crypto Noir Member T-ShirtThank you to every person who attended an EFF session, stopped to discuss online rights issues, signed up on the mailing list, bought some EFF swag, or renewed their support as a member. Also, I'm pleased to announce that we have a limited number of EFF's special edition DEF CON 23 Crypto Noir member t-shirts available now! You can figure out the puzzle on your own or read ahead if you like spoilers.

Las Vegas' hacker gatherings are an annual reminder that EFF stands alongside a socially conscious community that is ready to face weighty challenges and big questions about technology with a strong heart and a nerve of steel.

  • 1. If you have legal concerns regarding an upcoming talk or sensitive information security research that you are conducting at any time, please email info@eff.org. Outline the issues and we will do our best to connect you with the resources you need.

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