Techdirt has noted the increasing demonization of hackers (not to be confused with crackers that break into systems for criminal purposes), for example by trying to add an extra layer of punishment on other crimes if they were done "on a computer." High-profile victims of this approach include Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown and of course Edward Snowden.
But as this Reuters story reports, that crass attempt to intimidate an entire community in case anyone there might use computers to embarrass the US government or reveal its wrongdoings is now starting to backfire:
The U.S. government’s efforts to recruit talented hackers could suffer from the recent revelations about its vast domestic surveillance programs, as many private researchers express disillusionment with the National Security Agency.
Though hackers tend to be anti-establishment by nature, the NSA and other intelligence agencies had made major inroads in recent years in hiring some of the best and brightest, and paying for information on software flaws that help them gain access to target computers and phones.
Much of that goodwill has been erased after the NSA’s classified programs to monitor phone records and Internet activity were exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to prominent hackers and cyber experts.