What do you get when you cross a very controlling world superpower with 1,300 Chinese hackers? More drama than The Bachelor, that’s for sure. The biggest hacker conference in the world, DefCon, expanded to China this year and managed to attract a big crowd despite the government ordering local hackers to boycott global hacking contests.
The event, nicknamed the Olympics of Hacking, prides itself on the open-source sharing of information, security vulnerabilities and new software. But the share-everything ethos of DefCon flies in the face of Beijing’s increasingly tight control over China’s internet, especially after its first cyber-security law passed last year. Hackers have even been rumored to have been imprisoned for penetrating what has been nicknamed the “Great Firewall.”
But the good news is that Beijing’s acceptance of the event seems to reflects the government’s willingness to consider the trade-off between controlling the internet and encouraging innovation. Let’s hope innovation wins.