The organisers of "What the Hack" Hackers convention in the Netherlands have been hit with a ban that threatens the gathering. The mayor of Boxtel in the Netherlands has refused a permit for the get-together, under the notion of a "grave fear that the organisation of this event will endanger law and order as well as public safety".

The "What the Hack" event, which attracts about 3,000 participants from all over the world, now faces cancellation.

Organiser Rop Gonggrijp, co-founder of the first ever Dutch Internet provider XS4ALL and former editor-in-chief of the 1980's hacker magazine Hack-Tic, assumes it is a misunderstanding: "The mayor seems to have a somewhat odd perception of what we, hackers, are going to do there. Yes, we think it's important that bad computer security is exposed. But computer break-ins are only a side issue for us. We are talking about grown-up hackers: The participants have been working in the computer security industry for many years." Gonggrijp said that the event has not resulted in any incidents in the past.

This kind of thing smacks of the kind of ignorance that saw Kevin Mitnick denied a phone call in jail for fears that he might whistle into the hand set and launch a nuclear strike (yes, a Judge did believe that.) Perhaps it's the way that films and popular culture have twisted the word "Hacker" to mean a criminal of some sorts, or perhaps its ignorance about the world of computing in general. In any case, the organisers of the event promise that it will go ahead one way or another.