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Dateline NBC Mole Outed At DefCon 573

Posted by Zonk
from the bunch-of-cranky-hackers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dateline NBC allegedly attempted to infiltrate the DefCon hackerfest with a producer using a hidden camera. The show hoped to tape hackers admitting to illegal activities, but DefCon got wind of the plot and displayed the would-be-mole's photo before every presentation. Dateline refused to deny the planned infiltration. 'All journalists covering DefCon sign an agreement upon registering for the conference that outlines the rules, but the DefCon organizers say the mole apparently registered as a regular attendee, thereby bypassing the legal agreement. Dateline NBC is best known for its controversial To Catch A Predator series, which uses hidden cameras to tape men who are allegedly seeking to have sex with minors they met online.'"
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Dateline NBC Mole Outed At DefCon

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  • Brilliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alchemist253 (992849) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:40PM (#20108809)
    Attempt to carry out what is basically technological espionage against some of the best technological espionage people in the world... real smart move.
  • How unoriginal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:42PM (#20108825)
    They could've had some real fun with her had they not exposed her so quickly.
  • ... did he bring the condoms and beer? In the producer's defense, I'm sure he just wanted to be friends with the hackers and talk with them, nothing more.

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by atari2600 (545988) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:47PM (#20108871)
    • by fistfullast33l (819270) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:55PM (#20108957) Homepage Journal
      How was she going to fit in at a hacker conference?
      • A hacker of sorts (Score:3, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598)
        Women tend to be good at social engineering and networking. She might be pretty good at 'hacking' horny geek brains.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dr_dank (472072)
        In most male-dominated geek scenes (sci-fi, hacking, gaming, etc), a mildly attractive girl can easily find herself the center of attention and have a platonic harem of male geeks at her beck and call. If she could have played the part and flirted the right way, she could have easily fit in. Girls are rare enough in those parts; nobodys going to question the shining oasis in the desert. Only the hardcore paranoids in the crowd would have seen through her rouse.
      • by pclminion (145572) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @12:02AM (#20110987)

        Along with all the other hot women, maybe? Obviously you've never BEEN to Defcon.

        At Defcon there is a definite shortage of brilliant women. But there is DEFINITELY no shortage of what I call "scene sluts" who will pretty much have sex with anybody weighing in under 500 pounds, so long as you buy the drinks.

        It sounds like a joke, but it's not. Ask anybody who's been there (which clearly doesn't include you)

        • by geminidomino (614729) * on Saturday August 04, 2007 @06:09AM (#20112111) Journal

          Along with all the other hot women, maybe? Obviously you've never BEEN to Defcon.



          At Defcon there is a definite shortage of brilliant women. But there is DEFINITELY no shortage of what I call "scene sluts" who will pretty much have sex with anybody weighing in under 500 pounds, so long as you buy the drinks.



          It sounds like a joke, but it's not. Ask anybody who's been there (which clearly doesn't include you)

          Me either, but now I'm going to the next one!
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Funny)

      by megaditto (982598) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:57PM (#20108971)
      Wouldn't it be funny if she were outed as the original tubgirl? Ultimate payback for nosing around, eh?
  • by mdenham (747985) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:47PM (#20108879)

    Aside from the fact that what Dateline does can only be called "news" in a very loose sense, isn't this the kind of BS we should be expecting from Fox News?

    Or would they already be trumpeting how they got kicked out by the HACKERS ON STEROIDS?

  • by Chessucat (143856) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:47PM (#20108881) Homepage
    It is easier to catch perverts than hackers, 'eh?!;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      It is easier to catch perverts than hackers, 'eh?

      The problem for Dateline is their approach. Now if they had tempted these hackers with the possibility of accessing some super secret on-line achieve of hot tentacle porn, maybe they would have had more success?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:48PM (#20108887)

    Dateline refused to deny the planned infiltration.
    So there was someone trying to get them to deny the whole thing? Is that some kind of reverse psychology?
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:49PM (#20108905)
    Good for the Hackers. Fuck NBC and their bullshit. They wouldnt have presented a fair story anyways. They were out to paint all hackers in a bad light and produce yet another sensational story which i'm sure would have ended up with the word terrorism in it.

    Dateline should stick to entrapment. It seems that they're far better at entrapping lonely horny guys and ruining their lives for tv ratings.
    • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:09PM (#20109093) Journal
      I hate their To Catch A Predatory series. The questionable legality should be obvious to anyone. I don't like being in a position where I'm defending alleged pedophiles, but the law is there to protect everyone, even the accused (who sometimes need extra protection because of their vulnerable position). Never at any point was there an actual child who was in danger, no actual crime was committed. It's staged from end to end and yet they completely gloss over that part when their over dramatized edited version of what happens gets aired. This sort of vigilantism is not helpful to society. NBC are the real pornographers here, and sadly it seems people can't get enough of it.
  • ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drix (4602) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:50PM (#20108915) Homepage
    LOL! You mean.. you mean to tell me that that [wired.com] was going to pass as a DefCon hacker [mccullagh.org]? That is just a great end to my Friday.

    The only thing surprising here was that they had to be tipped off.
  • by aka-ed (459608) <robt.public@gmai ... m minus math_god> on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:50PM (#20108917) Homepage Journal
    should Journalists identify hemselves to the chef before eating at a restaurant under review? Reporters are representatives of their readers; I want MY reporters to be able to go anywhere without revealing their identity. When ABC's hidden cameras revealed that Food Lion was deliberately selling "iffy" meat, Food Lion sued on the basis of reporters falsifying employment applications. The courts eventually found in ABC's favor, as they should have! I'm sympathetic to hackers, but they deserve no special protection from the press.
  • best known? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:51PM (#20108933)
    Dateline NBC is best known for its controversial To Catch A Predator series, which uses hidden cameras to tape men who are allegedly seeking to have sex with minors they met online.

    Best known for that? I think they are best known for rigging a pickup truck to explode [whatreallyhappened.com] when they crashed it so that it would look good on tv.

    Their credibility is a wee bit low.
  • Hacker: Look! Behind that mask hides a reporter from Dateline NBC!
    Reporter: And i would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for these meddling kids!
  • Fox News (Score:5, Funny)

    by ZeroFactorial (1025676) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:58PM (#20108985)
    Their first tipoff was her "Windows Vista" t-shirt.

    I can see the NBC headline now... "EXPLICIT picture of Dateline journalist EXPOSED at hacker conference!"
  • Bad NBC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dotslashdot (694478) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:03PM (#20109021)
    That dateline guy is really annoying and smug. He seems to take pleasure at lording over others' predicaments/fear. The predator series is just plain wrong for many reasons. It's pretty much entrapment, especially because the men are convinced by the girl at the end to enter the house even though they seem apprehensive. And what's up with the tackling every guy by the cop, even the ones who surrender? Does NBC host the show Big Brother? Because these jackasses seem to be helping bypass civil liberties by unlawfully spying on everyone and inducing them to commit and confess to stuff that is probably not even illegal, or that they would not have done/followed through on, but for the shows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:03PM (#20109027)
    And then they would have to get consent to make an audio recording of anyone. And if they didn't, then it would be the MS NBC reporter going to jail or paying a fine.
  • by redelm (54142) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:05PM (#20109045) Homepage
    Unlike California, Nevada (and most the rest) are One-Party Consent to Tape [pimall.com]jurisdictions. So the NBC observer broke no law.

    And I rather doubt DEFCON can impose any boilerplate contractual terms on its' attendees. Most would revolt! Few would agree the sky is blue.

  • NBC Voyuerism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:29PM (#20109251)
    There is something deeply disturbing about this trend that NBC is spearheading. It is sick and twisted in itself to want to watch and see (AND BAIT) the 'scum of the earth' that are arrayed against You and Your CHILDREN!!! You know where the children are most safe from crime? Police States. And sadly, there are so many stupid, scared people in this country who make that deal in a heartbeat. Provided they are still regailed by entertaining tales of cruelty, sadism, and murder.

    "They Thought of The Children" will be carved on the tombstones of free societies.
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Have Blue (616) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:40PM (#20109317) Homepage
    It would be pretty funny if they didn't find Dateline's other undercover reporter.
  • Sheep groupthink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:46PM (#20109375) Journal
    I hope that when the next undercover investigation on electronic voting machines or some form of government corruption surfaces I'll see the same level of outrage directed at the "offending" journalist as I'm seeing here. I hope they're called "moles" as well.

    This is an expression of the idea of freedom of the press. It doesn't matter that it targeted a hacker convention. You can't have your cake and eat it.

    • 1. the blondie wasn't there to spot hacker terrorists, she wanted to catch undercover FEDs. 2. she was given a chance which she declined. I bet it was quite a laugh. "According to DefCon staff, Madigan had told someone she wanted to out an undercover federal agent at DefCon. That person in turn warned DefCon about Madigan's plans. Federal law enforcement agents from FBI, DoD, United States Postal Inspection Service and other agencies regularly attend DefCon to gather intelligence on the latest techniques
  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Friday August 03, 2007 @09:04PM (#20109955)
    This is a fun story. I like that she was outed and ran scared. But calling this unethical is just silly. There's no allegation of lying, only that she went in there undercover as a regular citizen without press credentials.

    Guess what, you don't need "press credentials" to take video in a public place. Absent a contractual agreement (or the public shaming that she received), there's not much anyone could do to stop her.

    Dateline is a horrible show. I'm quite glad they didn't get their story, because you can be sure they would have twisted it to sound as salacious and titillating as possible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Scudsucker (17617)
      Guess what, you don't need "press credentials" to take video in a public place.

      Was this in a public place? Aren't conventions usually in rented property, thus voiding the "no privacy in a public place" canard?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Was this in a public place? Aren't conventions usually in rented property, thus voiding the "no privacy in a public place" canard?

        The kinds of private places that are protected from "invasions of privacy" are places like bathrooms and bedrooms. A public gathering (even on private property) is not a place where you can expect to be free from public scrutiny.

        It might be different if it were a group therapy session or an AA meeting at the local church. But it's not.

        It's a group of people talking about how to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePyro (645161)

      But calling this unethical is just silly. There's no allegation of lying, only that she went in there undercover as a regular citizen without press credentials.


      She was specifically told that video taping in secret was not allowed, but she did it anyway. Sounds pretty unethical to me. In contrast, the DEFCON staff seemed to handle the matter well. She was offered an official press badge on multiple occassions before they finally got fed up and outted her.
  • youtube video of it (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigbigbison (104532) on Friday August 03, 2007 @09:48PM (#20110267) Homepage
    There is a video of her outing on youtube [youtube.com].
  • Calm Down (Score:4, Informative)

    by Swift2001 (874553) on Friday August 03, 2007 @09:56PM (#20110313)
    It's the media doing its job. If no one admitted illegal actions, the hidden camera would have ended up in the garbage. If someone actually confessed illegal actions, then more power to Dateline. One of the saddest moments came about 1995, when ABC used a hidden camera to show that a food market was routinely selling old meat and fish. They sued after the show came out, and won! Well, good-bye to exposing wrongdoing. And 60 Minutes lost their suit to the tobacco companies, even though Jeffery Wigant was telling the truth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      you can't possibly be so navie?

      it's been shown time and time again that trashie affair tv shows like dateline use deceptive editing and misquoting to only show the side of the story they want to.

      the problem with allowing assholes like dateline in is they won't let their lack of technical experience prevent them making allegations that are completely untrue. no doubt this bitch heard the word "hacker" and decided everyone going to defcon was breaking the law.

      it's like the old saying "never let the facts g

  • by postmodern modulus I (994339) on Friday August 03, 2007 @10:42PM (#20110567) Homepage
    The Threat Level blog has just posted an update on this story. Apparently Michelle Madigan was hoping to "out" an undercover Federal Agent.

    According to DefCon staff, Madigan had told someone she wanted to out an undercover federal agent at DefCon. That person in turn warned DefCon about Madigan's plans. Federal law enforcement agents from FBI, DoD, United States Postal Inspection Service and other agencies regularly attend DefCon to gather intelligence on the latest techniques of hackers. DefCon holds an annual contest called Spot the Fed, in which attendees out people in the audience they think are undercover federal agents. The contest is good-natured, but the feds who get caught are generally ones who don't mind getting caught.

    DefCon staff say that Madigan was asked four times -- two times on the phone and two times at the conference -- if she wanted to obtain press credentials, but she declined.

    DefCon staff lured her to a large hall telling her that the Spot the Fed contest was in session and that she could get a picture of an undercover federal agent at the contest. When she sat down, Jeff Moss, DefCon's founder, announced that they were changing the game. Instead of Spot the Fed, they were going to play Spot the Undercover Reporter and then announced, "And there's one in here right now." Madigan, realizing she'd been had, jumped from her seat and bolted out the door with reporters carrying cameras chasing after her through the parking lot and to her car.
  • by Torque (49173) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @12:33AM (#20111119)
    On one hand, you have a tragically flawed and misguided news organization, which builds and runs shows like To Catch a Predator. They're a really unsympathetic party. On the other hand, as many have pointed out, you have the fundamental truth that sometimes, undercover reporting is vital to the functioning of a free society.

    Personally? I'll risk the tragically flawed and misguided news organization if it means I have a better chance of learning when my rights are violated by my government.

    I'm pretty shocked that that's so far from a unanimous view here, given Slashdot's libertarian bent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cmat (152027)
      The big problem here isn't the legality of the press pulling this stunt; it's that there are presenters at this conference that have potentially broken laws (copy protection circumvention anyone?) in the course of discovering weakness in systems and products we use everyday. The content of this conference is very "touchy"; with very little alteration it would be easy to misrepresent what is said by people at DefCon. I believe if you want a conference like DefCon to succeed (where success is defined by peo

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