Reuters reported Saturday a senior administration official claimed the US government would use "visa restrictions and other measures" to keep China's security researchers from attending this year's DEF CON and Black Hat conferences.
DEF CON's Jeff Moss was quick to say that he knew nothing about the claims to Reuters and that, if true, it would be an unproductive step.
On Tuesday, Black Hat released an official statement saying this was all news to them, too.
Black Hat's spokesperson said: "We have not been contacted by the State Department nor any other government agency at this time."
The two conferences are America's premiere hacking and security conferences. The unnamed senior official allegedly told Reuters that the US government's conference-blocking considerations are part of a larger effort "to curb Chinese espionage."
"The official said that Washington could use such visa restrictions and other measures to keep Chinese from attending the August Def Con and Black Hat events to maintain pressure on China after the United States this week charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets.
China has denied the charges, saying they were 'made up'."
Black Hat's statement puts a careful distance between the global security conference, and what could be interpreted by some as propagandized nation-state skirmishes in the media.
Black Hat elaborated:
"Black Hat strongly believes in engaging with and fostering collaboration among the international information security community. With the constantly changing security landscape, it is imperative that we bring together the best minds in the industry from all over the world to help identify and mitigate today's threats.
In fact, our most recent event in Asia welcomed attendees from more than 41 countries around the world.
We are proud of the global nature of our attendees, speakers, trainers and Review Board who make our events and community possible."
After DEF CON's head honcho Moss — himself a Member of the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Committee — weighed in on Twitter, DEF CON's Twitter account went a step further and openly encouraged anyone coming to the US for DEF CON to reach out for help with visas if needed:
If you are going to speak at or attend #DEFCON & you need a visa to enter U.S. please contact us for invite letter to help your app— DEF CON (@_defcon_) May 24, 2014
Either way, we can be sure that this year's Las Vegas hacking and security conferences will be watched even more closely than usual by global security stakeholders.