back to article Adi Shamir visa snub: US govt slammed after the S in RSA blocked from his own RSA conf

Adi Shamir, the S in the renowned RSA encryption system, didn't take his usual place on the Cryptographers' Panel at this year's RSA Conference in San Francisco – because he couldn't get a visa from the US government. And he's not alone. Shamir – the 2002 Turing Award co-winner and a member of the US, French, and Israeli …

  1. DeVino
    Trollface

    Though it's only fair...

    to point out that getting in and out of Israel (and several other countries) requires an exquisite amount of faff too.

    Though Trump appears to be trying to top everyone else.

    1. muhfugen

      Re: Though it's only fair...

      What I dont understand is why they didnt plan for this contingency and just do video conferencing.

    2. Gonzo_the_Geek

      Re: Though it's only fair...

      Really? Apart from getting a letter from my company explaining why I was coming to Israel and filling in some info (essentially the same info provided on an ESTA application), I found it a breeze going to Israel for work.

      Security queues were actually shorter than the horror stories I'd been told led me to expect, and overall, the entire process was less painful than flying to the US.

      Travelling from the UK, on a Netherlands passport, YMMV.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Though it's only fair...

        Same here, but I was travelling from Cyprus, to Egypt on a short stop then Israel.

        This was on a British passport.

        All these conferences should just be moved to another country. The US is no longer suitable for international meetings. Hasn't been for a few years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Though it's only fair...

      All countries are different and can be a pain in the ass when trying to do something even when following the law.

      I had a gig where I needed to be in the UK. One day one of the gents in passport control, decided that I was 'stealing a UK citizen's job, when I was over there trying to train up a team of 8 people. So I get my passport stamped.

      Ever since then, I have to explain what happened, why it happened and that I have no intention of using the NHS because I have my own health insurance or pay out of pocket for minor things.

      And I was told by a bloke on a call where I had to pay to speak with him about this... that I was following the law that I didn't need a work visa because of US/UK agreements that were in place.

      In terms of the article and the US... It could be a snafu due to the shutdown.

      Or it could just be a typical bureaucrat drone just being a Fsck-Up. Maybe to make Trump look bad, even though he's very supportive of Israel.

      Why not go as far as to blame it on the BDS movement? Which is more likely the case.

      1. Bogle

        Re: Though it's only fair...

        Methinks Hanlon's razor applies.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @Bogle Re: Though it's only fair...

          Yeah, but unfortunately there is a portion of the bureaucrats who are BDS supporters.

          Just look at our Congress when a house rep makes clear antisemitic statements and isn't rebuked.

          1. Bogle

            Re: @Bogle Though it's only fair...

            I would urge some caution here. The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism makes it clear that a legitimate critism of Israel is not antisemitic: "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic". I don't of course know which particular instance of speech in the House you are refering to but let's not conflate Israeli politics and Israel the nation state.

  2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

    There's a huge distinction between being rejected and not getting a visa in time because of a backlog of requests. I don't know if there are restrictions as to how far in advance you are able to request a visa. I poked around and it seems the main form is the DS-160(which I helped someone with a couple of years ago) though I don't see at first glance anyway whether or not you have to file within X number of days of travel.

    The article implies the person was not (yet at least) rejected they just hadn't gotten the visa processed in time for the event.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

      if 2 months is not enough, then it's as good as impossible to get

      remember that you also need to book your flight and know when and where the conference will be held

      1. David Kelly 2

        Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

        Its government, not Amazon or Walmart. Two months is a rush job.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

          "Its government, not Amazon or Walmart. Two months is a rush job."

          ...and of you have money and contacts, you get hyper-super-rush and pick one up more or less on demand. The super rich don't wait.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

          Not really, the passport and immigration service was not affected by the shutdown - I applied to renew my passport three days prior to the shutdown and it arrived two weeks later.

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

        What planet are you from? Dates for conferences are generally known almost as soon as the last conference is finished. Travel for conferences is a different thing to both leisure and ordinary business travel. Especially if you are a presenter rather than a delegate.

        You big bag of fail you.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

      Sufficiently advanced delay is indistinguishable from denial.

      How much notice is reasonable to require? Two months? Two years? Two decades?

      1. Simon B-52

        Delay vs Denial

        Ask any lawyer what the best form of denial is, and they'll tell you "delay".

        That delay implies their continuing involvement and income may come in to it though....

    3. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: couldn't get one or couldn't get one in time?

      I assume that the huge backlog is related to the shutdown. God knows how many people apply for a visa every day, and when they stop working for five weeks, you must have interesting buffering problems such as "the applications don't fit in the building anymore".

  3. DougS Silver badge

    So where would they move it to?

    Surely not Australia, which would probably arrest the whole lot for insisting on math over laws. Not the UK, with all the Brexit uncertainty they have their own problems. Not Israel, the whole Middle East is out as too unstable. Not China or Russia, for obvious reasons. Maybe Germany or Japan?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland - basically, most of northern Europe is still reasonably healthy. I'm pretty sure all of those countries have at least a couple of decently equipped conference venues.

      No shortage of options, if you want to move. Frankly I can't imagine why anyone would try to organise an international event in the USA nowadays.

      1. Len Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        Agreed, if you're organising an international event why would you do it in obscure places like Saudi Arabia, the US or Belarus? Just choose a developed nation with good transport connections and facilities. Canada, most of Europe, most of South America, parts of Asia would work just fine.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          >most of South America,

          Most of South America requires you to fly through the USA. Since the USA doesn't have transit lounges it means you have to get a US visa to visit a lot of S. America.

          Ironically one of patriotic Boeing's selling points for the long range version of the Dreamliner is that it would allow more S. American airlines to fly direct to Europe without the interference of Uncle Sam.

          1. Wexford

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            IIRC a transit visa like this is managed on-the-spot. I visited Cuba a couple of years ago (via Mexico City via LAX) and was warned that this might be a problem. As it turned out, to my surprise I breezed right on through with just a fee to be paid.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              US Transit visas effectively no longer exist, because you have to apply online, then personally visit a US consulate/embassy for an interview. Waiting time is around 1 to 2 months, costs at least $160.

              If you qualify for ESTA then it's more or less ok, except that you run a high chance of missing your flight because their immigration is incredibly slow - at least partially because they don't have the concept of staying airside when "in transit".

              I never connect in the USA for South America anymore. Direct flights or via Madrid.

            2. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              Or, you could be stopped for half a day (or possibly it was a day) and questioned, missing your onward flight. Happened to a friend's colleague. This is the same person who didn't make it to NY to pick up some kind of Gates Scholarship related award because their visa application was held up for months, despite the Gates scholarship people and the mayor of New York's office getting involved.

              Their name was Mohammed of course.

              Hearts and minds.

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              "As it turned out, to my surprise I breezed right on through with just a fee to be paid."

              Even that would stick in my craw. Why should you pay a visa fee just to pass through?

              1. Joe Montana

                Re: So where would they move it to?

                "Even that would stick in my craw. Why should you pay a visa fee just to pass through?"

                you pay airport taxes and charges in any case, doesnt really make any difference if the fees are included in the ticket price or charged on the ground.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: So where would they move it to?

                  "you pay airport taxes and charges in any case, doesnt really make any difference if the fees are included in the ticket price or charged on the ground."

                  That's the point. You already pay airport taxes/landing fees, so you've already paid to use the airport. You never actually enter the country[1] and certainly don't intend to stay so why any kind of visa?

                  [1[ Yes. I know the US Gov has their own special and unusual idea of what "entry" means and where and how wide reaching the borders are.

              2. Simon B-52

                Valuation

                There's a saying that something is worth whatever you can get someone else to pay you for it.

                In this case, they can get travellers to cough up money-for-nothing in exchange for not stopping them / delaying them for three days / jailing them.

                Nice.

            4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              >IIRC a transit visa like this is managed on-the-spot.

              You are probably coming from a US visa waiver country like the UK.

              "transit" as far as the US is concerned is entering the country = easy for a Brit, trickier for an Iranian.

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            "Most of South America requires you to fly through the USA".

            Actually not. There are direct flights to Brazil, for instance, from Europe - and to some South American destinations from Australia and Eastern Asia.

          3. A. Coatsworth

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            >>Most of South America requires you to fly through the USA

            My little backwater country (Costa Rica) has direct flights from Madrid, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Zurich, and also connections through Panama, Canada and Colombia to Asia, Australia and Europe. There is absolutely no need to pass through the "Land of the Free" if you don't want to. I'm sure the same applies to most of Central and South America.

            1. herman Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              Err... Costa Rica is a US protectorate.

              1. A.P. Veening

                Re: So where would they move it to?

                I'd say you are confusing Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, the latter indeed being a USA protectorate.

              2. A. Coatsworth
                Facepalm

                Re: So where would they move it to?

                @herman

                Yes, Costa Rica is a US protectorate... and Vienna is the capital of Australia...

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              >>Most of South America requires you to fly through the USA

              My little backwater country (Costa Rica) has direct flights from...

              Yes, but Costa Rica is in Central America. Makes all the difference, see?

              (Seriously, I'm all for moving RSA, and many other major conferences, to Costa Rica. Sounds like an excellent plan.)

          4. Joe Montana

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            There are plenty of direct flights to south america from europe and africa, especially from spain and portugal who have close links with south american countries. I've flown direct from spain to ecuador, which would make a pretty good international conference venue due to their relaxed visa policies.

            1. defiler Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Ecuador

              And you could have Assange headlining! Tremendous!

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        You could do a lot worse than Madrid or Valencia where I live. Spain has a growing IT market, the Government is fairly progressive, the weather at this time of year can be fantastic ( today a forecast of sunny 22°. Prices are cheap and both cities have good facilities. An added bonus would be some of the best wines in the world at stupidly low prices.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          Recently attended a conference in Barcelona.

          Lovely city, but there were armed police everywhere.

          And we were pre-warned not to wear our conference passes outside, and to travel in groups for our safety.

          So I'd likely strike Spain off the list.

          A/C because. I do honestly love Spain. Tis a shame.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            Barcelona has the Catalan loonies who all seem to have fallen off their collective perch lately. The rest of Spain is peaceful and civilised, though I live in Valencia,I think Madrid has the nicest vibe of any major European city, friendly people, good food, micro breweries al over and surprisingly cheap good qualty accommodation.

            1. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              Was in Barcelona early last year, not long after the 2017 elections and independence poll, it was also peaceful and civilised. There were quite a lot of Catalan flags and yellow bows around.

              Before branding them loonies you have to recall that for a large portion of the 20th century the Catalan language was banned in schools and they spent the years after the second world war under a dictatorship that they'd fought to oppose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_Catalonia#Fall_of_Catalonia

          2. WilliamBurke

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            Barcelona is untypical for Spain. It has had a crime problem sine the Olympics in 1992, and a terror attack in 2017 didn't improve the general feeling about security. Even so, the worst that may happen is that you get pickpocketed or your bag snatched. I'd prefer being out at night there over any US city above half a million inhabitants. And the rest of Spain is lovely and safe.

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              Well living and working in Barcelona for much of the year, I don't see a problem. Gorgeous city (even if tourists do get in the way) and plenty of venues. Major crime - not really, and even less so who compared with the RSA conference venue.

            2. pavel.petrman

              Re: So where would they move it to?

              ... the worst that may happen is that you get pickpocketed or your bag snatched

              Never been to US myself, but from the Reg articles from the past few years I understand that getting pickpocketed and your bag snatched is actually a big win when dealing with the US immigration where it can and often does get much worse (with the bonus of it being fully backed by law).

          3. James Anderson

            Re: So where would they move it to?

            Barcelona is an exception. The various police forces Local, Mossos, Guardia Civil and Policia National have been mostly fighting each other and "normal" crime has got out of hand.

            The rest of Spain has a relatively low crime rate and probably the most efficient police force (Guardia Civil) in the world.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        "No shortage of options, if you want to move. Frankly I can't imagine why anyone would try to organise an international event in the USA nowadays."

        I wonder if it's a self-reinforcing sense of "the largest delegate contingent are USAians, therefore we must hold it there", except, of course, that's probably a matter of convenience. Hold a similar conference in Europe and you'd almost certainly find that the largest delegate contingent would be Europeans. People only travel long distances if they are being paid to do it or they are important to the conference. Wherever a conference is held, there will be relatively large numbers of "locals" who will attend as much out of curiosity as need when there's little hassle or expense in getting there. It's a lot easier to justify the junket costs if it's relatively cheap/local.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        "Frankly I can't imagine why anyone would try to organise an international event in the USA nowadays."

        Given the previous reports of problems getting travel to such events (maybe even to this one) in previous years I'm surprised they even chose the US this year.

      5. James Anderson

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        Whats wrong with southern europe.

        Spain and Italy have several state of the art conference centres

        better weather and better food then any of the alternatives listed.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        The Netherlands is a good place, lots of interesting locations in Amsterdam (some even for conferences) and English is widly spoken. Dublin would also be a good choice, or if you expect a large US contingent and they won't travel far then Canada is another very civilised choice.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        Amsterdam a great international travel hub too, fairly easy to get flights not only to and from across Europe but also the rest of the world.

        Livestreamed a conference from there last year, seemed to go well, though the US contingent complained about having to travel.

      3. Andy Non

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        Antarctica is becoming quite a warm place, with stunning scenery too. ;-)

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          Yeah but the conference facilities are minimal, the accommodations a bit draughty, and just you try and find a decent restaurant with a good wine selection in the evening!

          Still plenty of Linux chaps walking around, so it cant all be bad...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

        particularly Brugge. OK, not in Holland (or Poland), but still, luvely city ;)

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

          Upvote for mentioning the lovely city of Brugge, but it is a bit far from any major airport, the four nearest major airports are in four different neighbouring countries (and Luxembourg doesn't have one).

          1. FrankVanRiet

            Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

            Euh, i think you forget Zaventem... which AFAIK is still in Belgium, and the closest major airport with connections all over the globe. and is about an hour drive from Bruges. (yes, a bit biased as i'm Belgian)

            1. A.P. Veening

              Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

              I didn't forget Zaventem, but I don't consider it a major airport as it isn't in the top-20 of the EU. On the other hand, the EU numbers 1 through 4 are all within 400 KM from Brussels.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

            Brussels Airport to Brugge is one train which helps.

            Coming from the UK you can take a ferry out of Hull instead. Luggage restrictions are then much more relaxed as long as you can carry what you're bringing.

            1. A.P. Veening

              Re: I understand the Netherlands are beautiful this time of year....

              From Hull you can also take a ferry to Hoek van Holland, a suburb of Rotterdam but actually closer to The Hague.

    3. thames

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      Some traditionally US conferences have been talking about moving to Vancouver specifically because of visa issues. You might want to add Singapore to your list of desirable locations as well.

      I also wouldn't rule out London just on the basis of Brexit. That issue might be all consuming so far as people in the UK are concerned, but most of the rest of the world really couldn't care less about it unless they are running a business who are directly affected. Conference goers are more concerned about the availability of direct flights, hotel rooms, decent restaurants, low crime, and good conference venues.

      Pretty much any potential location will have some drawbacks, and no destination will be completely free of visa problems for at least some attendees. It's all relative though, and at present holding international conferences in the US is becoming difficult enough that more than a few organizers are seriously looking for alternatives.

      1. Len Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: So where would they move it to?

        I think the Brexit reference was not necessarily about the political clown-car-on-fire of it but more referring to the fact that literally nobody (not even the people whose job it is) knows what's going to happen to the UK's airports and borders in a few weeks time.

        If I had scheduled a major international conference in April or May in the UK this year I would be shitting bricks right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          A bunch of biotech conference have moved to Singapore because of a perceived risk to stem-cell researchers. Even if you get the visa, and don't get arrested you run the non-zero risk of being shot by some religous wacko

        2. Dr Paul Taylor

          UK conferences in April

          My group at the U of Birmingham has three, in successive weeks after B-day. My colleague from Slovenia said he was coming on 30 March, so I urged him to get here by 28th and stay in my house, but he said he'd prefer to be stuck in Frankfurt [airport] than in Birmingham [with his mates].

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          If I had scheduled a major international conference in April or May in the UK this year I would be shitting bricks right now.

          I haven't scheduled a major international conference in April or May in the UK this year, yet I am shitting bricks right now.

        4. Joe Montana

          Re: So where would they move it to?

          "literally nobody (not even the people whose job it is) knows what's going to happen to the UK's airports and borders in a few weeks time."

          Based on previous events which caused panic like this, the airports and flights will probably be deserted due to people intentionally avoiding them due to all the media hype.

          They said that travel in london would be impossible during the olympics a few years back, but aside from localised congestion during events the times i travelled into london during the olympics it was actually much quieter than usual.

      2. MJB7

        Re: London

        London has major problems approving visas for attendees at academic conferences. I have a friend who used to be a research associate at Cambridge, but has returned to his home country (with wife and children now). He was unable to get a visa to attend a conference in London last year. (The fact that "home" is Iran is almost certainly not a coincidence.)

      3. Haefen

        Re: So where would they move it to? Not Canada

        Canada is becoming less attractive due to it's relationship with the USA (little more than a territory in many ways) and it's unquestioning response to American orders even when those orders are not in Canada's interest.

        The arrests of Canadians in China and Chinese in Canada (most notably one in particular) are just the most recent consequence of that relationship. Canada is not a good choice for those trying to avoid American politics or enforcement.

        As mentioned, every place has it's issues, for those welcomed by or not at risk in the USA, Canada makes the best choice, IMO. Cheaper, more welcoming, not as crowded, and when it comes to Western Canada, lower BC and AB, lots of diversity and of course Mountains are always a nice distraction.

    4. Shane McCarrick

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      Ireland or Portugal would tear lumps out of each other for the right to host this conference?

    5. David Lester

      Here's some suggestions ...

      The visa issue has been around in some form or another for at least a decade. As an academic conference organiser, I have seen the UK Border Agency turn down PhD students from the German Supercomputer Centre. After paying €700+. Admittedly, both were Iranian nationals, and on reflection I should have been more careful in obscuring the nature of our get together: mentioning "supercomputers" in a visa reference for an Iranian national was a bit of a red rag to a bull.

      Now, on the practicalities of organising conferences. Ideally you'd like to be able to fly in directly to an international airport, hop in a taxi, train or bus and get out at the destination hotel/venue. Since there are a lot of PhD students attending, you need to keep the price down, but you also need the facilities available. For this reason, out-of-season holiday destinations can be quite attractive.

      So, in no particular order here are some suggestions for conference venues where visas are less of an issue:

      North America: Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto.

      Italy: Amalfi Coast (fly in to Naples), Sardinia, Sicily (involves an extra flight).

      Greece: Any of the Island (but involves an extra flight)

      Belgium: Bruges (easy to get to from Brussels).

      Germany: ICE trains make airport connections in Munich dead easy. Rhineland wine-growing regions are only 30km from Frankfurt Airport.

      Sweden/Denmark: A bit expensive, but there are often youth hostel type hotels in interesting destinations in the islands and forests.

      France: Try working out from Lyon rather than Paris (CdG). North to the Mâconnais, or even the city itself. The area around Marseille can be good.

      I'd also think about Romania or Estonia these days.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Here's some suggestions ...

        Brugge is indeed easy to reach from Brussels Airport, but there aren't that many airlines flying to or from Brussels. The best connections to Brussels are by high speed train from either Amsterdam (through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol) or Paris (alphabetical order).

        Additional suggestions, all readily reachable from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with direct trains:

        Amsterdam

        Den Haag (The Hague)

        Utrecht

        Rotterdam

        1. David Lester

          Re: Here's some suggestions ...

          Quite right too!

          I'd forgotten my last conference (as participant) was in Maastricht. A visit to the castle and another civic reception by the regional mayor (or whatever) in the Regional Parliament.

          But it did involve a long long series of train rides out of Brussels. Three, I think.

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: Here's some suggestions ...

            From Schiphol it is either two or three trains, depending upon the time of departure/arrival.

      2. Stork Bronze badge

        Re: Here's some suggestions ...

        Funny, we are in the Algarve and have thought it is just missing the conference centre for the off-season. Lisbon should be ok

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Here's some suggestions ...

        Italy: Amalfi Coast

        I don't need it to be a conference venue for me to be persuaded to go there!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      I would go to Japan to see it, if RSA was not at the event. I have this thing about companies that break encryption for criminal government agencies. But Japan is cool.

    7. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: So where would they move it to?

      >Not China or Russia, for obvious reasons.

      I don't follow your logic here. Encryption is mathematics and so is country and culture independent -- the Russians and Chinese working in this field are going to be just like anyone else in the world. The governments of these countries know that this type of conference enhances their prestige and profile so they're probably going to do anything it takes to make the conference successful, up to and including leaving the participants alone.

      Its only in the US (and among our hangers-on) that we have the hubris to think that the world owes us a living. For all I know this pettiness isn't a bureaucratic SNAFU but payback because the way that American law works means that no viable crystallographic system can be developed in the US -- the onerous licensing demands make it more trouble than its worth.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

    Sometime ago i read of some US big cheese that was concerned at the "rise" of China.

    IIRC correctly, some academic cheered them up by saying the big difference is that clever, productive people will always WANT to come to America.

    Seems they hadn't considered the US might not allow the "brightest" and "best" in.

    Crumbs of comfort: the special relationship is as strong as ever-our glorious, "no skin in the game" PM has made and continues to make GB in to a fortress 'gainst any intellectual "invaders".

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

      Currently a very good whine in the papers by Harvard about the difficulty of Chinese students getting visas to study their and how the current administration doesn't seem to understand that overseas students paying to study in the USA is an export not an import.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

        Arggggh damn phone autocomplete - I'm not an illiterate idiot I'm a university professor.

        (Not that those are necessarily distinct sets)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

          There their they're. You'll be ok once you've had a good glass of whine.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

      Thumbs up for the Bill Hicks reference!

      Oh and the rest of your post. But mainly for the Bill Hicks reference... :P

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

      Odd, isn't it, that East Asians are widely believed to have significantly higher IQ than "Caucasians" (white people to you and me)?

      They are certainly far more successful in academia and business.

      Yet we are continually being told that they can obtain high technology only by stealing it from Caucasians.

      Racist, much?

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

        Start with a population more than double that of the EU and the US together and if you get equal numbers of the best people the Asian ones will have higher IQs, for normal distribution reasons.

        I remember an educational psychologist suggesting that the reason Ireland has been such a problem historically is that the population wasn't big enough, and there was too much emigration of the educated, to provide an intelligentsia big enough to give them reasonable politics. Since people actually started emigration to Ireland, it's risen rapidly up the GDP per head scale and become a modern country.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

          there was too much emigration of the educated, to provide an intelligentsia big enough to give them reasonable politics

          It's curious that the proponents of meritocracy never mention its impact on the population left behind. Until the early 20th century, working-class communities might be expected to have the same distribution of ability as the population at large. When opportunities for advancement become available to the ablest, there's nobody left but those who can't get out.

          Totally off-topic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Weeeeaaaelllll... looky here, we gad ar selfs a reader!

          "Since people actually started emigration to Ireland, it's risen rapidly up the GDP per head scale"

          In principle that's good to hear, but how much of that GDP increase is real, and how much is due to things like the creation of "fake offices" which do no business except sign deals for related companies elsewhere in the EU (or even rest of the world), thereby ensuring low taxes, corporate subsisdies, or both?

          See also: Apple, "double irish", Google, etc. Similar practices also apply to some pan-European banking institutions.

          2010: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2010/10/21/130727655/google-s-tax-tricks-double-irish-and-dutch-sandwich?t=1551875078530

          2013: https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/no-desks-no-staff-no-tax-ireland-s-shadow-banks-1.1388923

          2018: https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16842876/google-double-irish-tax-loopholes-european-billions-ad-revenue

  5. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    OpenPGP

    As OpenPGP has been available for years and has strong (not backdoored) encryption, any attempt to block terrorists from using strong encryption is completely futile.

    (The even older completely unbreakable encryption technique - a one time pad - is also possible - and you can store a huge one time pad on a MicroSD card.)

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: OpenPGP

      Yeah, yeah, we all know that but you try telling the bloody politicians that. It's difficult to tell whether they truly are ignorant and unwilling to learn, or are being blindly loyal to party and ideology, or are using this as an excuse for a broader slurp of data because some spook has convinced them that that would be a jolly good thing and we'll all thank them for their excellent foresight when some undefinable future threat is comprehensively averted.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: OpenPGP

        ... difficult to tell whether they truly are ignorant and unwilling to learn, or are being blindly loyal to party and ideology ...

        Hmmm ...

        Both.

        Being blindly loyal to party and ideology is undoubtedly a product of ignorance and unwillingness to learn.

        O.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: OpenPGP

          Yes, it can certainly be a subset. I'd like to think that our supposedly intelligent, principled and motivated elected representatives wouldn't all fall into that category, but since everyone is capable of making mistakes I suppose that given enough areas of non-expertise then disastrous results will inevitably occur almost as a matter of individual convenience.

          (Please note my restraint on not giving the obvious example. I need the brownie points with the missus.)

    2. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: OpenPGP

      "...and you can store a huge one time pad on a MicroSD card."

      There is a safer method for sending OTPs, with far less risk of interception: steganography. E.g.: Put some high resolution picture in, say, cutekittenspictures.com, apply some mathematical transforms that can be easily memorised by the spook/mole/whatever -e.g. take the square root of the file's size, take the 3rd, 7th and 2119th to 2713th decimal positions of the result and combine them, and use the result to xor the image data. Change the picture/OTP every month or every day for added security. Do it right and you got yourself a several Mb. sized OTP that is impossible to break without help from the mole or from his controllers.

  6. Someone Else Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "It's embarrassing to be a Yankee some days," sighed the crypto-boffin.

    No, it's embarrassing to be a Yankee every day that the Orange Scourge infests the White House.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We don't know what the cause of the delay in visa processing was yet, so don't jump to conclusions.

      For all we know it could be government employees who hate Trump causing the problem. If that's the case, rather than criticising Trump we need to purge them from the government department issuing visas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > so don't jump to conclusions.

        It's quite obvious.

        Trump is a Putin puppet

        Putin is a puppet of the UK Labour party

        The Labour party ordered the Israeli guy banned because of anti-semitism

        It's all Corbyn's fault

        Or at least that's what the MMB want you to think......

      2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        The delay in processing is unrelated to the fact that Trump makes it embarrassing to be American

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Tangentially related - the delay in processing in this case is almost certainly the result of the government shutdown which was 100% Trump's fault. He even said so.

      3. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: "rather than criticising Trump we need to purge them"

        Oh! I'm quite sure that it had nothing to do with throwing a tantrum and shutting down the government until he got his way.

        Why not make all those government employees wear armbands? It will make it easier to round them up and put them on trains.

      4. Simon B-52

        Why not say what you really feel?

        Why not say what you really feel?

        "Everyone daring to criticise Trump should be purged - loaded onto trains taking them to Death Valley perhaps, where certifified patriots can bow hunt them."

        Make America Genocidal Again.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Not just an orange-utan problem

      It seems someone at a 3letter agency really doesn't like the guy

      US red-tape will drain boffins' brains into China, says crypto-guru Shamir (el'reg 2013)

      Ironically that was an invite by the NSA to speak at an NSA conference that got blocked

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Orange Scourge

      That's scrounge!

  7. Nick Kew Silver badge

    He has history ...

    Back in the 1980s, when modern cryptography was emerging, Shamir (at the Weizmann Institute in Israel) published a paper the US government considered sensitive and should be secret. So they ordered him to withdraw it and recall all copies. Evidently they took the view that "when it really matters, we have jurisdiction", and noone tried to resist. Though of course, by the time this happened, the paper had reached the desks of researchers around the world.

    I think it was Scientific American where I first read of this, and encountered the concept of the ZKP. About 1985-ish.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: He has history ...

      I thought US government policy in that case was to grant visas and then arrest the "offenders"?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: He has history ...

        No the DoD would just block web access to any news site that reported it

        1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: He has history ...

          I'd ask MalwareTech, but he's being held hostage at the minute

  8. whoseyourdaddy

    I can't be the only one who looked at SF hotel prices, mid week, in February (which should be cheap) and thought....

    Damn...

    But, I've not been to Vancouver.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. bigtimehustler

      Re: Terrorists rolling their own crypt

      You do realise rolling your own can just be taking a few open source libraries, and implementing an app yourself by putting said libraries together in your chosen language. Set up a server in a suitably don't give a shit country to route messages and post some phones out to your torrorist buddies pre loaded with the software.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Terrorists rolling their own crypt

        Talk to an expert in cryptographic engineering. Rolling your own can be, literally, lethal.

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: Terrorists rolling their own crypt

          You are confusing cryptology with bombs.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Terrorists rolling their own crypt

          Also, that may confuse cryptography with cryptographic systems. Rolling your own cryptography nearly guarantees that you will make a stupid mistake and your crypto will be broken a lot faster than you thought. Using someone else's crypto that is proven to work but changing the container format and/or transmission protocol means that the people attempting to read your communications will have to pick both of those apart before they can start to crack the key. It prevents them from having a pre-built module for it that they can set going, and you're still using a proven algorithm.

  10. Youngone Silver badge

    Johnny Foreigner

    His name leads me to believe he might be a foreign gentleman.

    It sounds like this software whatsit he's invented might be used by miscreants to prevent hard working policemen from listening in on phone calls, or from reading email when they see the need.

    I say we ban him from any travel. Can't be too careful you know.

    Johnny Foreigner can be a slippery devil.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Johnny Foreigner

      And he repeatedly visited the middle east.

      A colleague of mine who served in the Israeli Defense Force (along with pretty much everyone in that country) wondered how he should answer the 'have you ever been involved in espionage or sabotage' question on the visa form. The correct answer - Yes I was made to run around half the desert with a backpack full of explosives - presumably wouldn't get a favorable response

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    "security researchers have found it increasingly difficult to enter America legally for conferences"

    It must be better than having a problem leaving.

  12. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    He enjoyed his grievance.

    He wasnt 'snubbed', he just left application too late.

  13. DavCrav Silver badge

    Correction to popular myth about RSA

    It wasn't invented by R, S and A. It was invented a few years earlier by Cliff Cocks, a British mathematician working for GCHQ. He was told about the (at the time unimplemented) idea of asymmetric encryption and literally overnight came up with the same algorithm, but he couldn't write anything down because he wasn't in the building. R, S and A merely rediscovered the process.

    Adi Shamir has done enough things that were definitely his without using as an example something he didn't really invent.

    1. Julian Bradfield

      Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

      Many important ideas in maths have been invented independently by multiple people. We try not to get hung up on who happened to be first, and sometimes the person it's named after isn't the first, but the one who did more with it, or was just lucky to be on this side of the Iron Curtain. If you work for a secret organization, you have to give up on getting things named after you! (And Cocks seems happy with that.)

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

        "Many important ideas in maths have been invented independently by multiple people. We try not to get hung up on who happened to be first, and sometimes the person it's named after isn't the first, but the one who did more with it, or was just lucky to be on this side of the Iron Curtain."

        Is that really true? It might vary from field to field then. I think in pure mathematics it is important to establish priority, even if the results were obtained independently. Nowadays citations matter -- and determine promotions -- so if your original work is ignored over a later one, that has a negative impact on your career. For example, the journals of the London Mathematical Society (disclaimer: I'm on the editorial board) list one of the reasons for a corrigendum to be issued is to establish priority, even if the results are correct.

        For instance, there is a famous lemma in permutation groups called Burnside's lemma, but it definitely isn't by him, and is often now called the Cauchy-Frobenius lemma. Both Cauchy and Frobenius are dead and already have enough named after them, but historical record is important. In most books since this became widely known, this fact is mentioned along with the result.

        As a negative example however, the Cauchy--Riemann equations were known to d'Alembert, and Euler used them, about a century beforehand. This is mentioned on the Wikipedia page (I just checked) but not in Conway's GTM on complex analysis. (My other complex analysis textbooks are buried under a pile of things, and so I'm not going to check.)

        Certainly 45 years after the fact, and now we know who the inventor of RSA is, things should be stated as "discovered by Cliff Cocks in the early 70s, and subsequently independently rediscovered by RSA". Certainly that is how I've been trying to do things in the book I've just finished writing, including both the Soviet and Western discoverers of results when they appear independent.

      2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

        Has anyone heard of Stigler's Law of Eponymy?

    2. MJB7

      Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

      It *was* invented by RSA. It is true that it was also earlier invented by Cliff Cocks, but he didn't publish, so it is right that RSA got the credit.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

        "so it is right that RSA got the credit"

        No, that's not how discoveries work. That's how patents work, but this is about reality, not the legal system. For example, consider this sentence from Wikipedia on the telephone:

        "The first telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci, but Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the development of the first practical telephone."

        Meucci never patented or sold his telephone, so he didn't make any money from it. However, he is the inventor because that's what actually happened in the world.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

          I've invented a time machine, but haven't published or patented it due to the obvious dangers to causality. It turns out in 384 years it'll get attributed to somebody called Bruce.

    3. MrXavia

      Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

      just because he wasn't first, it doesn't mean he didn't invent it...

      Many things were invented at similar times by different people, the person who gets their first and patents is the one that wins...

    4. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

      It is quite possible, indeed likely, that the NSA had independently invented it already and just hadn't told anyone.

      Remember the example of the NSA suggesting fixes to IBM to strengthen DES back in the 70s, against attacks that weren't publicly discovered until the 90s. Back then at least, they were decades ahead of the public state of the art.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Correction to popular myth about RSA

        "It is quite possible, indeed likely, that the NSA had independently invented it already and just hadn't told anyone."

        Possible, but I don't think likely. Indeed, GCHQ told the NSA about CCA (Cliff Cocks algorithm) soon after he discovered it, and they didn't say 'oh yeah, we've got, like, three of them'. At the time there was a lot of co-operation between the two agencies.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Politicize all teh thingz!

    Yes, it's all due to "President Trump's partial federal government shutdown". Herdthink among tech and media leads to biased misattributions like these. It takes uncompromising positions on both sides of the partisan aisle to shut down the US government until key spending bills can be passed. Shamir can blame Democrats and Republicans for any backlog (if that's what it was, since that was pure speculation) just much as he should blame himself for trusting government at all and failing to follow up on such an important item. But Orange Man Bad, I guess.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

      Bollocks. The government shutdown was due to Trump and Trump only.

      You don't blame someone being blackmailed for refusing to comply with the blackmailer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

        You mean the way the left and the MSM has demonized him from the start, accused him of non crimes relatable to all preceding POTUSes etc? He's the most vetted Politician in US history but yes stop working for the people that elected you to impeach this devil. I wouldn't have voted for either but he's going to get worse if they keep blocking the work that needs to be done to virtue signal.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Most vetted politician in history?

          Hardly, we haven't even seen his taxes yet. Luckily there is now actual oversight, so oversights such as not releasing his tax forms will be corrected against his will.

          Someone who signs everyone around him to NDAs, which is probably not even legal for government jobs, is obviously very, very afraid of being "vetted".

          1. Jaybus

            Re: Most vetted politician in history?

            "Hardly, we haven't even seen his taxes yet. Luckily there is now actual oversight, so oversights such as not releasing his tax forms will be corrected against his will."

            We haven't seen his tax returns because there isn't much point in it. People who make as much as he does get audited pretty much every year. I think that point was dropped even prior to the election when it became obvious that it was only going to expose the loopholes that many previous Congresses had inserted into the tax code to aid their benefactors. Trump himself took the wind out of that sail when he pointed out in a debate with Clinton that her benefactor (George Soros) enjoyed the same tax breaks that he did.

      2. Halfmad

        Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

        Depends how you look at the blackmail. Trump was elected based on assurances, he has been looking to get those funded, the Democrats were refusing to do so - I'd say they were as bad as each other.

        Trump - for being unreasonable in his demands at the time.

        Democrats - for consistently refusing to fund promises made during a campaign which they lost because the electorate wanted, in part Trumps plan.

        It doesn't matter whether you agree with Trump, the man is a fool. But the bottom line is that a majority of US citizens who bothered to vote chose him based on, at least in part those border wall promises.

        1. Bogle

          Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

          > a majority of US citizens

          FactCheck: No, they didn't. The Electoral College does that and overall Trump had 2.87 million fewer votes nationwide.

          1. MrXavia

            Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

            It is the same kind of maths that Brexiters use when trying to say the majority of the population voted for Brexit....

            Brexit won the vote, but was not a majority of the registered voters

          2. Keven E

            Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

            Thumbs up to you Bogle. So many don't seem to get this is a serious issue that needs a complete overhaul.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

          So why if the orange one was so keen to fulfill his campaign promises, did he faff around for two years when 'his' party had a functional majority, and only try and fund them when he knew he would lose?

          And who knew that opposition parties have to stop opposing when they lose an election? (OK bad example, I forgot Corbyn....)

        3. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

          If the wall was his only campaign promise, and enjoyed support from a majority or even a third of the population, then you might be right. But it wasn't, and it doesn't. He's got between 2/3 and 3/4 of his base (people who say they support him) in favor of the wall, and that's about it, according to polls.

          He had republicans in the house for his first two years, why did he wait until democrats took over before he decided he had to shut down the government over funding? The reason is obvious, its because he wanted his base to blame the other side - that would be harder to do with his party in majority. Of course being the low IQ fool he is, he gave up any advantage before the shutdown by announcing he'll take the blame. I'm sure the groans from republicans in congress was audible a mile away from the Capitol when he said that.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

        "Baa baa baa-llocks!" bleats Sir or Madame Sheeple.

        The contortions of logic and the acrobatic mental gyrations that led you to believe blackmail was a good analogy for the negotiations of two powerul politcal parties are truly astounding. It really is like a circus trapped inside your thick cranium.

        The only crafty thing you did is draw fire from the speculation that the government shutdown had anything to do with it. But it sounds not out of the realm of possibility and gives so-called journalists a chance to bash Big Bad Orange Man, so there's no call to actually investigate any of the claims or try to get to the real issue when they can say this and the ad impressions and upvotes pour in with a lot less real work. Shameful.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Politicize all teh thingz!

      "But Orange Man Bad, I guess."

      hey! can't be wrong all the time, it seems! Well done!

  15. Dr Paul Taylor

    More privacy 200 years ago

    200 years ago, he said, people had more privacy than anyone does today.

    Yes, 200 years ago the State had very little idea of what was going on anywhere.

    But your neighbours knew absolutely every detail of your life and most people had no way of getting away from them, and even if you did you would have become an outsided wherever else you went.

    Fine if you conform. Not so good if you don't, for example if you're gay,

    1. Glen Turner 666

      Re: More privacy 200 years ago

      If you give the clock another twist, say 430 years ago, then that places you into the reign of Elizabeth I. Where the state took a great deal of interest in what we would regard as private affairs, such as your relationship with your chosen god. The reason for the state's invasion of your privacy? Terrorism.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: More privacy 200 years ago

        Upvote because you are right, but terrorism wasn't invented yet at that time. It was an invention of the French Revolutionary/Republican Gouvernment and excuted between 1793 and 1794, see Reign of Terror.

  16. STOP_FORTH

    Taking away the football

    Whatever the reason for the lack of visa is really makes no difference. If the guy wants a conference about his encryption system and it is too troublesome to get into the US he can hold the conference wherever he likes.

    (I don't know who really invented this form of encryption, but surely this particular implementation was invented by R, S and A?)

    I'm voting for Iceland because I have never been there. Nor have I ever been invited to any crypto conferences.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Taking away the football

      Iceland - gorgeous, if a little extreme (weather wise I hasten to add), but are you adding it to get some more opinions from conference delegates, or is there another conference you would like to get moved there - just curious?

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Happy

        Re: Taking away the football

        No real reason, I have travelled fairly extensively for my employers but have never been to Iceland. I have been to a few trade shows but I don't go to many conferences.

        Transferable vote second option would be Japan, but hey, it's not all about me!

  17. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    So... USA relies on RSA encryption to a large extent, but one of the inventors and founders of RSA isn't allowed into the USA?

    Dohhh...

  18. A.P. Veening

    Visiting USA

    As a pretty decent, law abiding person, after reading yet another story like this, I am getting more and more disinclined to visit the Uninviting States of America, I will leave that to terrorists can other criminals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Visiting USA

      I like the USA (well parts of it that I know anyway) having lived and then visited for more than 20 years. But I have avoided unnecessary travel there for a while, and always carry a 'clean' phone and computer. Nothing to hide, but I wish may bad porn habits to not to be revealed to the borders bods.

  19. JassMan Silver badge
    Trollface

    Shamir should count himself lucky

    A certain young Briton was allowed in for a security conference and now they won't let him leave. I am sure the NSA/FBI etc, could find a few lines of Shamir's code in tons of malware. Didn' t Wannacry use RSA to encrypt your data before Hutchins stopped it in its tracks?

    1. Keven E

      It's optimistically hardened

      All the above comments... but nobody pokes at this from the article?

      But with computer brain interfaces looming, he believed our personal thoughts could be up for grabs to anyone with a court order.

      Thanks for the depression... now I know I'll fail these *tests!

      - and -

      Overall there was optimism that the world was heading in the right direction on some topics. Election systems are getting hardened...

      If we just kept it hard (paper trail) we wouldn't have to get back *harder.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Efficient

    Trump is to efficient government what gunpowder is to an enema..

  21. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Entropy, entropy, they’ve all...

    I’m personally thinking of legally changing my combined names to a very long and unfactorable prime representation hashed by my gene sequence and tattooed subcutaneously with invisible ink. #noninvisa

  22. AndyD 8-)₹

    back then...

    Was it R, S, or A that was arrested by (?) Special Branch when they tried to present the algorithm to the (?) Royal Society?

  23. dalethorn

    The one and only reason Shamir was blocked was because he does things like break 4096-bit govt. encryption with a laptop and microphone. The "big guys" don't want it to become widely known how weak "official" policy is. Never mind that nearly everyone forces non-random passwords on their users.

  24. toffer99

    I hear the Second Coming was planned for December. But Jesus Christ was turned back by TSA at the border.

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