Home TECHNOLOGY Hacker conference speaker axed over abortion views

Hacker conference speaker axed over abortion views

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Congressman Will HurdImage copyright
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Mr Hurd won criticism from cyber-security professionals over his voting record on women’s rights

A US politician has been removed from the list of speakers at the Black Hat hacker conference following protests over his views and voting record.

Republican Will Hurd was due to be a keynote speaker at the high-profile conference in Las Vegas in August.

His inclusion prompted protests and threats of a boycott from some ethical hackers due to attend the conference.

The protests centred around his anti-abortion stance and his wider voting record.

Inclusive environment

In a statement, Black Hat said it had chosen the congressman as a speaker because of his “strong background in computer science and information security”.

In addition, it said, he had supported some “specific cyber-security initiatives” in Congress.

One such measure involves making manufacturers of smart home devices ensure their products comply with basic cyber-security standards.

But Tech Crunch reported Black Hat’s choice had caused widespread “unease” among security professionals.

One measure, that Mr Hurd voted against would have provided financial aid for women seeking to pursue careers in technology and science.

He has also been an outspoken opponent of abortion.

Explaining its decision to axe Mr Hurd, Black Hat said it had “misjudged the separation of technology and politics”.

“We recognise that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarising political debate resulting from our choice of speaker,” it added.

In response, Mr Hurd’s office said he had been “honoured” to be invited.

It added: “Congressman Hurd has always sought to engage groups of people that don’t necessarily agree with all of his votes or opinions.”

Black Hat’s decision to remove the speaker also drew criticism.

Jennifer Granick, legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, asked what other views would disqualify someone from speaking at the conference.

In a tweet, she asked: “Should Black Hat now ask potential speakers for their views on abortion, or is it fine so long as we don’t know?”

Black Hat said it had not yet chosen a speaker to replace Mr Hurd.





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