The ACPO Conference – Subversive Plans

Posted on July 2, 2010

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So, the ACPO conference is in its last day as I write this. This year’s bunfight – dubbed the ‘Cybercrime Conference’, presumably by someone in charge of thinking up cringe-inducing names for conferences – seems to have been the usual mixture of high-level waffle, vendors trying to flog stuff to people with no money, and drunken geekery. That’s what my sources tell me anyway, I didn’t get to go this time which is a shame as I quite fancy the opportunity to do a bit of Hunter S. Thompsoning there. Maybe next year.

This year’s event has coincided with the G20 conference in Canada, which also seems to have run according to the usual rules: nothing interesting came out of the conference itself, all the fun seems to have been had on the streets outside, where waves of what the media stupidly call ‘anti-globalisation protesters’ clashed with police and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

It always strikes me when watching the G20 street theatre that they look as if they’re having a whale of a time, probably a hell of a lot more fun than the people in the conference itself. All these disparate groups – autonomous anarchists, anti-arms traders, anti-seal clubbers, anti-pollutioners, anti-captitalists, unreformed Trots, Wobblies and the rest – getting together to take over a chunk of city for a few days, smash a few windows, overturn some cars and throw stuff at the people trying to keep the peace. With the costumes, banners and masks, it has a carnival atmosphere to it, and I want in. Not to G20 protesting (before the NDET send their black helicopters to my window), but maybe we geeks could have a bit of our own fun at the next ACPO Killer-Space-Robot Conference (as I hear the 2011 Cybercrime conference is to be called).

It’d be fun to organise – put up a load of Facebook groups, Twitter feeds and flyers on the Digital Detective and Forensic Focus boards, and aim to recruit anyone with a vested interest. We could communicate via Tor and Hushmail, using cool nommes de guerre and wearing black masks. Imagine all the people we could bring along! Here’s a few ideas:

  • The Pro-Triage, Anti-Hyperbole Faction – practitioners who are in favour of exploring the benefits that forensic triage can bring, but who are pissed off by the way it’s bandied about as a magic bullet by certain senior police chiefs. who don’t talk to the people at the coalface.
  • The Down-with-the-Man Register Commentators Alliance: Unite all the people who talk bollocks in The Register’s comments pages whenever a story about law enforcement computer forensics comes out. This might be tricky because there are more factions among them than a Trotskyite convention (see my first ever post) but it’d be fasctinating to see if they talk as much crap in real life as they do online.
  • The Operation Ore Club: Possibly organised by that bloke who trots out the same article about Op. Ore being a sham every year (you know, the one who claims to be a DF geek but who no one in the industry’s ever heard of), this could unite those creepy groups of people who claim that a massive class-action over Ore is about to bring down the government (maybe in some sort of a landslide victory, haha). They could burn an effigy of Jim Gamble, while avoiding questions about them being convicted for images that post-dated all the Ore stuff anyway.
  • The Private Sector Let-Us-In Consortium –  arriving in their Lear jets, Lexus cavalcades and private helicopters, these folk would protest through mouths full of caviar and the half-masticated hearts of proletarian babies at the LE-only slant of the ACPO conference, but still be overjoyed at presenting a product there (yeah, talkin’ to you @schizophreud ;-))
  • The We-Want-More-Jollies Practitioners Bloc – made up of LE forensics geeks who want to go on more conferences. Most of these people would be paying their own way, possibly hitch-hiking down to Wyboston. They’d mill round the gates stealing food, while muttering about how they’d ‘rather go to the F3, but I’ll take what I can get’.

OK, that’s all I’ve got time for this morning. I’m sure you’ll all have your own suggestions, so you stick ’em in the comments.