News Release

Why Have Office Computers in Congress Been Blocked From Access to “Hackers on Planet Earth” Website?


“Congress members and their staffers are blocked from accessing the website for the annual Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference, according to a screen shot Firedoglake obtained,” Kevin Gosztola reports.

“A staffer in Congress tried to access the website on July 28, more than a week after the tenth annual conference was held, and got a screen indicating the site had been categorized as a prohibited website,” Gosztola writes. “The screen that appeared informed users, ‘The website you attempted to visit contains content inappropriate for business use.’”

The recent HOPE conference included the first-ever public discussion between Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The following are available for interviews:

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin.gosztola at, @kgosztola
Gosztola is a journalist for the online media organization Firedoglake. He said today: “The pop-up screen indicates it has to do with ‘hacking,’ but it is still not entirely clear why the site is blocked. It is not like the website would be used as a launch pad by hackers to break into the House of Representatives network.”

Gosztola added: “Previously, it has been reported that federal workers were banned from accessing WikiLeaks on government computers. And now, employees are prohibited from accessing a page for a prominent hacker conference. This appears to be another example of a culture of enforced ignorance being maintained.”

TREVOR TIMM, trevor at, @trevortimm
Timm is executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He said today: “It was an honor to moderate the first public discussion between the two most influential whistleblowers in American history. They offer lessons for government officials who witness wrongdoing, and for the public, who must hold those officials’ feet to the fire.”