Why I will not attend IEEE S&P 2016

This is a letter I wrote to the organizers of the 37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

Just as last year, I will boycott S&P because of its sponsorship by the National Security Agency.

It is unbelievable to me that S&P accepts funds from an organization whose stated goal is to undermine and subvert exactly the security standards and research that the conference purports to stand for. You could not take money from mobsters and then pretend to treat fairly the subject of cybercrime. Neither can you pretend that NSA money does not have a corrupting influence on the content of the conference. The NSA is a proven malicious actor—it does not care about your conference or even your personal well-being.

I know that you may not have direct control over donations. Still, I feel you should know the reasons why someone boycotts your conference. Some of you may have your own private reservations. If that's the case, Stand up for your field and make your objections known. IEEE S&P is a trusted name and the harm will be great when it is captured by the powers of mass surveillance.

David Fifield
May 21, 2016