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Cybersecurity conference ditches headliner after complaints about his voting record on 'women's rights'

Apparently supporting liberal causes is more important than expertise on security

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The organizers of a cybersecurity conference have pulled the plug on their chosen keynote speaker after left-wing techies complained of the expert's voting record on "women's rights" issues.

What are the details?

Black Hat announced Friday that it had removed GOP Rep. Will Hurd (Texas) from their event schedule, just a day after sending out a press release boasting of landing the former CIA officer and cybersecurity advocate as their headliner.

TechCrunch reported Thursday on the initial decision to select Hurd, saying "several people we've spoken to have described their unease that Black Hat organizers have asked Hurd, a self-described pro-life lawmaker, given his consistent opposition to bills supporting women's rights."

TechCrunch said its sources asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation, but the publication presented an analysis of Hurd's voting record showing "he has voted against a bill that would financially support women in STEM fields, voted in favor of allowing states to restrict access and coverage to abortions, and voted to defund Planned Parenthood."

Initially, a Black Hat spokesperson defended their decision to let Hurd speak, saying the congressman "has a strong background in computer science and information security and has served as an advocate for specific cybersecurity initiatives in Congress. He will offer the Black Hat audience a unique perspective of the InfoSec landscape and its effect on the government."

But social media went wild over the decision, and the event organizers ultimately caved to pressure.

Friday, the group issued the following statement:

Black Hat has chosen to remove U.S. Representative Will Hurd as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote. We misjudged the separation of technology and politics. We will continue to focus on technology and research, however we recognize that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker. We are still fully dedicated to providing an inclusive environment and apologize that this decision did not reflect that sentiment.
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