And across the street, activists rented out the Mexican restaurant Chevy's, a traditional watering hole and dealmaking spot for the cybersecurity set. The activists say they won't let anyone into the restaurant who paid to attend the RSA conference.
Their message: If you support the RSA, no tacos for you.
This year's RSA conference—traditionally one of the industry's biggest deal making and technology sharing meetings—features a tech community divided against itself in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations of the extent of the NSA's snooping and just how closely some cybersecurity companies here cooperated with it.
Robert Imhoff, founder of a hacker security group, raised $7,000 on a crowdfunding website to rent out Chevy's. He said he wants to inconvenience the attendees to make a point about NSA surveillance. And he said the sponsor of the conference has already taken a reputation hit from the disclosures. "For 30 years, everybody has said RSA, the security division of EMC, is the go-to place for security and safety and trust," he said. "Now [they] have lost so much goodwill."
For its part, RSA has denied allegations that it deliberately created a back door in its security products for the NSA to exploit. CEO Art Coviello suggested in his speech here that RSA had essentially been duped by the agency and would be more skeptical of the government in the future. If "we can't be sure which part of the NSA we're actually working with, and what their motivations are, then we should not work with the NSA at all," he said.
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said he came to San Francisco this year, in part, to help make amends with the cybersecurity community.
"The damage is real, and we shouldn't shy away from that," the Michigan Republican said. "There's a lot that this community believes that the National Security Agency of the United States is doing that it's not doing—and we need to get that fixed."
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