So, a few years back at DEF CON 26, we hosted a talk by Phillippe Delteil titled “Macabre stories of a hacker in the public health sector (Chile)”. As it turns out, this speaker was surreptitiously recorded at Skytalks by persons we believe to be agents of his government.
We were informed by the speaker after DEF CON that this incident had occurred. We were unaware during the event that this recording was taking place. It is very unfortunate that this occurred.
For those unaware, Skytalks posts signs and reiterates to attendees that they should treat our space as being under the Chatham House rule / friend-disclosure-agreement. We do work to catch people inadvertently or blatantly flouting this policy, as you can hear in the recording, and have taken action from time to time accordingly. We also freely admit to doing some “performance art” on stage.
That said, Skytalks recognizes the logistical challenges of stronger technical enforcement: we do not operate a SCIF; we do not ban all electronics at the door; and we recognize that all casinos are full of video and audio recording devices. A determined adversary, especially a nation state, can circumvent and ignore our visual inspections of and cautions to attendees.
After running Skytalks for the number of years that we have been, it is perhaps unsurprising that there has been a rules breach. In most instances where we have caught individuals contravening the policy, we ask them to show us their device and to cooperate with us to delete the recordings/images. When necessary, we have asked people to leave, and in doing so have been grateful for the support of DEF CON Goons. We appreciate our community for having respected the rules over the years and successfully keeping our “underground” track an informal space for people who want to give talks in a more relaxed environment.
Because of this event we have already been making it more clear to speakers that they should do their own risk assessments before deciding to give a talk. We continue to adjust our policies and our methods for keeping Skytalks an open, “off-the-record” space for presenters with more sensitive talks to speak. And we continue to appreciate the support of the hacker community in keeping this space.