[FoRK] Colbert at RSA: When Smart Equals Funny

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Mar 12 15:36:01 PDT 2014


Hah.  Well, that would have been fun.

> He also dinged Scott Charney, head of Microsoft's Trustworthy 
> Computing group, who also spoke.
>
> "Not everyone can book a speaker from an Orwellian dystopia," he said. 
> "I look forward to next year's speech from the executive director of 
> Sweet Dreams Euthanasia Clinic, Incorporated."

> He also had a few choice words for the NSA: "We can trust the NSA," he 
> said, "because without a doubt it is history's most powerful, 
> pervasive, sophisticated surveillance agency ever to be totally pwned 
> by a 29-year-old with a thumb drive."

> "We all deserve credit for this new surveillance state that we live 
> in," he said, "because we the people voted for the Patriot Act. 
> Democrats and Republicans alike. We voted for the people who voted for 
> it, and then voted for the people who reauthorized it, then voted for 
> the people who re-re-authorized it."


http://adtmag.com/blogs/watersworks/2014/03/colbert-at-rsa.aspx
Colbert at RSA: When Smart Equals Funny

I've been covering tech trade shows and user conferences for more than 
two decades, and last week's RSA conference was the first in my 
experience to include a comedic keynoter who actually understood the 
technology and the issues surrounding it. Stephen Colbert, host of 
Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," gave the conference closer in San 
Francisco on Friday to a packed house, and killed.

"RSA developed this conference in 1991 as a forum for cryptographers to 
gather and talk shop," Colbert said, "and I assume breed with one 
another. Of course officially that's called exchanging private keys."

Colbert kidded conference organizers for booking FBI director James 
Comey as a speaker, and noted the director's comment that "At our best, 
we are looking for security measures that enhance liberty."

"Well said director," Colbert said. "I'm sure that under enhanced 
liberty you can have all the privacy that you want-just like under 
enhanced interrogation you can breathe all the water you want."

He also dinged Scott Charney, head of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing 
group, who also spoke.

"Not everyone can book a speaker from an Orwellian dystopia," he said. 
"I look forward to next year's speech from the executive director of 
Sweet Dreams Euthanasia Clinic, Incorporated."

Colbert laid into NSA leaker and conference buzz hog Edward Snowden 
during his talk, calling him "practically a war criminal" for taking top 
secret U.S. intelligence to China and then to Russia. "Was Mordor not 
accepting asylum requests?" he asked. (He's a known hardcore Tolkien fan.)

He also had a few choice words for the NSA: "We can trust the NSA," he 
said, "because without a doubt it is history's most powerful, pervasive, 
sophisticated surveillance agency ever to be totally pwned by a 
29-year-old with a thumb drive."

Colbert addressed the boycott of the conference this year by 13 digital 
security experts, who canceled their talks after Reuters reported that 
RSA, the conference organizer and chief sponsor, had a $10 million 
contract with the NSA to set as the default in their encryption products 
a flawed formula for generating random numbers, which effectively 
created a back door.

Activists from Fight for the Future appealed to Colbert to join their 
boycott in an open letter, which read in part: "We know you, Stephen, 
and we know you love a good 'backdoor' joke as much as we do-but this 
kind of backdoor is no laughing matter...We want to hear your speech, 
but give it somewhere else!"

"The elephant in the room is that I was asked not to come [and] speak 
here," Colbert told his audience. "That came as something of a shock to 
me. Normally I'm asked not to be somewhere only after I've spoken."

"I looked at the signatures on the online petition," he added. "Then I 
looked at the signature-my signature-on the bottom of the contract 
saying I'd be here today, and my conscience was clear, as long as the 
check clears...Well, it's not actually a check. They gave me a bitcoin 
voucher from Mt. Gox, and I'm sure it's going to be fine."

At one point, Colbert offered a kind of acknowledgment of the American 
people for their support of the NSA's programs.

"We all deserve credit for this new surveillance state that we live in," 
he said, "because we the people voted for the Patriot Act. Democrats and 
Republicans alike. We voted for the people who voted for it, and then 
voted for the people who reauthorized it, then voted for the people who 
re-re-authorized it."

Colbert also pitched his own data security venture, CloudFog. "We take a 
novel horizontal approach to vertical socket encryption," he said. "The 
result can only be described as diagonal."

Here in Silicon Valley, smart often equals rich. I'm glad to see it 
sometimes equals funny.

Posted by John K. Waters on 03/03/2014 at 3:27 PM

sdw



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