Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert was interviewed by the Globe and Mail, discussing topics including hacktivism, Canadian intelligence agencies, and the use of commercial spyware. In the article, titled “Why Canada’s Hacker King is very afraid,” Deibert speaks to Canadian novelist Trever Cole.
Asked about his advocacy for “hacktivism,” Deibert responded that hackers often have to contend with misconceptions surrounding their trade. “Most people associate hacking with criminal behaviour. I mean the exact opposite. If you look at the origin of the term, it meant somebody who is interested in technology, who likes to experiment. This should be a civic ethic in the world we live in today” he said.
Deibert also flagged the lack of accountability of Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, which he explained had few oversight mechanisms. The laws that govern an annual review of the organization, conducted by a retired judge with a staff of 11, simply require that the organization “follow[s] its own secret interpretations of laws that themselves are secret.” Deibert said that this was not to say that abuse was occurring, but rather that the potential for it remained.
Asked about what prompted legal action initiated against Citizen Lab by Netsweeper, Deibert responded that several reports had identified Netsweeper technology being used to censor the Internet. He explained that prior to the release of a report on Yemen, Citizen Lab issued a letter to Netsweeper, offering to publish their response in full. Netsweeper never responded.
Deibert goes on to discuss the broader implications of Citizen Lab research, and ways to think about Internet governance in a way that is sensitive to the modern realities of the shared communications space that is the Internet. Read the full interview.