Stephen Colbert Must Speak at 2014 RSA Conference

RSA the makers of one of the most prolific digital encryption systems was outed for taking a $10 million bribe to weaken their security, so that the NSA could break it more easily.


Setting aside that $10 million seems like the NSA bought RSA’s integrity for an incredibly low price (who says government always has to pay top dollar?). The biggest problem here (even bigger than state surveillance) is that you cannot weaken security for just one party. If RSA security is easier for the NSA to break, then it is easier for everyone to break.

It’s messed up.

It’s horrible that the NSA asked them to compromise their product.

It’s insane that RSA complied.

What does this have to do with Stephen Colbert?

RSA has an annual security conference. It was a big deal in tech circles (until this year).

This year many security experts have rightly decided to boycott the conference. In its place they will be speaking at, TrustyCon.

Colbert is still scheduled as RSA’s keynote speaker and many in the tech community want him to cancel. Fight for the Future, an Internet advocacy group that I typically agree with is circulating a petition asking Colbert to do just that.

It says, among other things:

“Whatever speech you had planned, we’re sure it would be amazing. We want to hear it; we really do. The 2006 White House Press Corps Dinner? You killed it. But this isn’t that. Not only will your speech not be broadcast to the public–it’s also really hard to make jokes about surveillance that don’t distract from how scummy and dangerous it is.”

Fight For the Future is wrong. Colbert needs to speak.

Non-tech geeks don’t care about RSA Con, or the intricacies of Internet security. And while more people should be interested in what folks like Christopher Soghoian have to say, they just aren’t.

Colbert can draw attention to it. A lot more attention.

It won’t be broadcast… But I’m willing to bet that it will find its way to YouTube. If RSA tries to censor the video, it will only spread more rapidly.

“It’s hard to make jokes about surveillance that don’t distract from how scummy and dangerous it is?”

Really? Have they seen his show?

I have faith that Colbert will rise to the occasion, and deliver a speech that will help to push this conversation in a productive direction. If he cancels, that doesn’t happen. If he goes to TrustyCon and speaks to a friendly audience on their own turf, it loses a lot of its potential.

Guys like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are at their most powerful when they are lighting fires in the belly of the beast.

(Image via Wikipedia)

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