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Fire laws trump a full-conference fee at RSA

So you travel thousands of miles, shelling out a cool $2,125 for the full-conference fee, and you get to the your first session of the day–one of the best on the RSA docket: Joanna Rutkowska’s presentation on security challenges in virtual environments–and you’re asked to leave because all the chairs in the room are taken 15 minutes before the start, and you’re not allowed to stand in the back.

Score it: San Francisco fire marshal 1, full-fare paying RSA attendee 0.

More than 50 attendees grumbled their way out of the session–held in one of the smaller conference rooms at the Moscone Center–who were told that fire laws prohibit standing along the perimeter of the room.

Two security staffers came into the room and made it clear that anyone not seated–Information Security magazine included–had to leave. One attendee remarked that pre-registration for sessions was not an option, and nowhere in the registration process was this particular issue raised. “You can take that upstairs,” security told him.

To her credit, Rutkowska stuck up for her audience, asking why they couldn’t stay and sit on the floor. But not even a renowned hacker has any pull at RSA.

Lesson learned: Put Rutkowska in a bigger room next year. Her sessions are always well attended at industry events such as RSA and Black Hat. And hers was the only virtualization research session scheduled Tuesday, an issue not lost on those who crammed the hallway straining their hearing for some insight. Before of course, the doors were shut.

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