Defcon 15: Undercover Reporter Flees

I’m guessing this was pretty widely reported, but an NBC undercover reporter fled after being outed in the opening session. NBC Dateline associate producer Michelle Madigan refused press credentials on four separate occasions, choosing instead to pose as a normal attendee in order to covertly film other attendees. Defcon has a long running tradition of playing”spot the fed”, where attendees out people they think are federal agents. The feds play along and it’s all good fun. This was entirely different though: the game “spot the undercover reporter” was announced and she fled immediately, only to be filmed “To catch a predator” style.

I may just be a blogger, but I’m wearing my press pass proudly.

33 thoughts on “Defcon 15: Undercover Reporter Flees

  1. That’s what she gets for underestimating the clever minds at DefCon…. btw, shouldn’t she get court cases out the wazoo for being bugged, last time I checked that was illegal.

  2. HAHAHAHAHA that was the coolest thing ever! what was she expecting? a large group of people with above average IQ’s all convening for the same reason and she thought you guys were going to be stupid enough to not notice her?
    I love how you guys really turned the tables on the new media! Good Job.

  3. It’s been a long time since I checked on this, but I believe the law regarding bugging states that it’s okay for conversations to be recorded between two or more parties so long as ONE of the parties knows the recording is going on.

  4. yeah as long as one of the parties being recorded is consenting adults then it’s perfectly legal. as for how she thought she could get away with that, come on it’s defcon these are not stupid people you’re around.

  5. Okey if this girl would be working for me and she would do this work and just fail at this simple undercover task i would fire her ass, i mean come on!!! just pretend your and enthousiastic journalist.

    Yeah ok it is not nice to be a “predator”, but hiring hackers i mean what the fuck, you guys could make lots of money. Lets say if the feds hire you, work with them get some stuff you normally woudnt be able to get and leave.

    You know some of their secrets and you know how they work, whats the bad part???

  6. I love how major media outlets feel the only way to report “news” is by sensationalizing it. Rather than trying to take an objective approach to things and report what Defcon is all about, they instead chose to try and prey on the general populaces ignorance and fear. “Ooooooh scary hackers trying to blow up the world!!!!!!11!! more at 10”

  7. The laws about consent to record conversations vary state to state country to country

    Carrying a hidden recorder is not always allowable even by an undercover reporter, or an undercover cop.

    That said, the press have quite a bit of leeway in the courts, if the story justifies the need for subtifuge.

  8. To #14,

    and to think, I actually wondered why hackers have such a bad name…

    Just sounds like a bunch of selfish assholes trying to justify their own lack of morals.

    Oh scary, they can hack your mySpace page, wow, I bet you they’ve got the mad skillz to drive around beating up little girls too.

  9. I don’t think there are many laws prohibiting recording in a public place–and even fewer statutes that prohibit video (even if it includes sound!) Most of the laws protect private, not public, conversation.

    No one would buy video cameras if using them in public was illegal. And the press has the same rights to take photos/video as any shmoe.

    However, any organization sponsoring a public event has the right to prohibit taping/video (which Defcon clearly does NOT do–given the dozens of cameras present.)

    There are certain municipalities which try to prohibit video of police officers, etc., even in public (or on private land by the land owners.) But I’d expect those laws to be challenged.

    What happened here really was that the Defcon group felt that the reporter was likely to do a typical network hack job on the report, and misrepresenting herself in order get fodder for the network. There was no illegality involved, merely distaste for ‘Dateline’ style ‘reporting methods.’

    Yep, that’s one funny video…the fact that the audience members used the same hack ‘ambush journalism’ technique is very cool!

  10. humans and their monkey brains. congratulations to everyone concerned. so i guess the concept of rising above and taking the high road lost again to group monkey think.

    so once again, congratulations monkey brains.

    does it actually matter one bit if she was an undercover reporter? does it actually matter if whatever network show ran a so called “hatchet job” on hackers?

    NO!!! it doesn’t matter. not even a little. get over your own ridiculous insecurities and this preoccupation with being validated.

    I’m just wondering why no one actually degraded so far as to fling poo at the woman.

  11. In regards to wiretapping, it depends on the state. Some states are “anti-wiretap” which means all parties have to be notified that they are being recorded, other states are “one party” which means only one party of the conversation needs to know about the recording.

    If she’s in an anti-wiretap state, someone should teach her a legal lesson, and seeing as how each person she recorded could be a separate felony charge against her, well let’s just say it could be interesting to see how she and NBC try to make good.

  12. @ehrichweiss:

    By definition ‘wiretapping’ means tapping into private communication. Those laws don’t apply to public communication.

    There may be other laws that prohibit photographing/video of a minor, etc. And there are uncounted instances of police using convenient laws like ‘inferring with an ongoing investigation’ to try and prevent someone from taking video in a public place (the police generally lose those cases, if they are challenged..)

    Also, many private companies/public municipalities aggressively try to control all information, sometimes because it’s embarrassing, often because it’s proprietary or potentially lucrative.

    For an event like Defcon which is ‘voluntary’, organizers have the right to set the rules of attendance, and eject whom ever they like. Her threatened ejection (she left voluntarily) had nothing to do with privacy laws…

  13. to #16

    those websites that Fox was talking about has nothing to do with hacking. They are just image boards that like to get a few laughs from other peoples expense. Anyone on those websites who call themselves hackers are fucking retards, just like fox made retards out of themselves.

    By the way fucking lol at the video.

  14. to #22

    When I say that they give hackers a bad name, I’m not implying that they’re actually hackers, but that (thanks to fox news) they’re who [ignorant] people will think of when they hear the term.

    As far as being hackers, It would feel wrong to even call them crackers. Calling them terrorists would probably be more appropriate.

  15. To #16

    Fox called them Hackers. They didn’t hack that one kids Myspace page. He fell for phishing pages *7* times, and then decided to tell Fox News about it.

    Don’t ever believe the media.

  16. So put yourself in this scenario:

    You’re a low animal on the food chain where you work, and are sent out to do the grunt work for something someone high above you will gain recognition for; someone who does little more prep than sit in a makeup chair. If you don’t, you’ll more than likely find yourself without a job.

    You’re an outsider in a large group of people you know next to nothing about, and are already anxious and intimidated due to your skewed understanding of their culture.

    You’re then outed, and not only run out of the area, but also followed by the more impetuous and ambitious of them, taunted along the way.

    Far as I see it, her boss was the stupid one, and those that followed her out of the building should be ashamed of themselves. It’s a wonder she didn’t have a heart attack, or get into a car accident.

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