Passwords Conference in Doubt Over #Travelban

Conference organizer Per Thorsheim has announced that he does not plan to run the PasswordsCon event this summer due to the USA’s travel ban.

In a statement posted on Pastebin, the PasswordsCon founder said that he does not plan to travel “to Las Vegas this year due to what is happening in the US right now.”

He added: “As a Norwegian I can pretty much go anywhere in the world without fear based on my country of origin. It troubles me deeply that people - refugees - are excluded solely on their country of origin, or religion, as this #MuslimBan EO really seems to be about.”

Thorsheim runs the PasswordsCon event in conjunction with BSides Las Vegas, held this year on 25-26 July.

“My belief in democracy & the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights takes priority over my work, hobby and general obsession into passwords and digital authentication,” he said. “I have seen the worst of consequences happening to people being excluded for so many different reasons. Adding to the people I know that already have trouble getting a VISA to the US based on their origins, even more people I know have told me explicitly that going to Vegas just won't happen, period.”

He went on to say that he hoped to return to the USA one day, and continue to protect the password, “probably more than ever before.” He also said that if the BSidesLV team plan to run the passwords track this year he would accept it.

“There are Americans who cannot afford to go abroad. There are Americans that don't have a passport, so they cannot leave their country. A lot worse is that there are people in the US right now that consider the US their home, but if they leave they might not be allowed back in. Americans deserve the same rights to education, meetups, conferences and better password security as anyone else in the world.”

In a comment posted on Twitter, the organizers of BSides Las Vegas said: “While #BSidesLV is sorry to see it come to this, and [Per] Thorsheim won't be joining us this year, we stand by his decision 100%.”

No answer was given to a question posed by Infosecurity on whether a decision had been made on whether the conference track would still go ahead.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, fewer than one-third of Americans believe the ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the USA makes them feel "more safe”. The travel ban includes Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and those with dual nationalities who will be stopped at the US border for the next 90 days.

A number of technology company CEOs have hit out at the ban, with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook criticizing the ban, and pledging to support their employees.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg posted a lengthy statement on his page highlighting his European immigrant roots, and stating his concern about the executive order. “These issues are personal for me even beyond my family,” he said. “A few years ago, I taught a class at a local middle school where some of my best students were undocumented. They are our future too. We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here. I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone.”

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