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Monday, 17 June 2019 07:34

Black Hat pulls keynote speaker due to stance on women's issues

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Black Hat pulls keynote speaker due to stance on women's issues Image by Nikos Apelaths from Pixabay

The Black Hat security conference has changed its mind about having Texas Republican Will Hurd as keynote speaker for its event in Las Vegas from 3 to 8 August, after the politician's voting on women's issues surfaced and was criticised.

In a statement, the organisers said: "Black Hat has chosen to remove US Representative, Will Hurd, as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote.

"We misjudged the separation of technology and politics. We will continue to focus on technology and research, however we recognise that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarising political debate resulting from our choice of speaker.

"We are still fully dedicated to providing an inclusive environment and apologise that this decision did not reflect that sentiment."

Hurd's voting record says: "Representative Hurd opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, funding education, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, humane immigration policy, labour rights and wages, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, racial equality, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, countering russian interference, a robust safety net, domestic surveillance, women's rights and supports big business, hawkish foreign policy, taxing the middle class, military spending."

The choice of Hurd came to light a few days ago, and the reaction was immediate.

Security industry pioneer Chad Loder said, "BlackHat's decision to have Rep. Will Hurd keynote their conference is a slap in the face to women in cyber security," adding, "how many women were on the approval panel?"

The choice of a politician for a keynote speech may seem odd, but Hurd is said to be the most clued in in the Republican ranks when it comes to cyber security.

However, even politicians who know nothing about technology are often selected to speak at technology conference, with a prime example being the selection of defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as keynote speaker by FireEye for its annual shindig this year.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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