Herr Lecture’s presents leading expert on digital espionage at the Lacombe Memorial Centre

Ronald Deibert will be coming to Lacombe on Sunday, April 7th

With the rise of everything digital, personal and state security needs to continue to be a priority in order to protect liberal democracies throughout the world.

Ronald Deibert, one of Canada’s leading experts on digital espionage and a professor at the University of Toronto, will be coming to Lacombe on Sunday, April 7th at 7:30 p.m. at the Lacombe Memorial Centre as part of Burman University’s Herr Lecture Series.

The talk, ‘Digital Espionage Against Global Civil Society: Tracking a Growing Threat to Democracy’ provides an overview of ‘Citizen Lab’, which researches digital security issues that arise out of human rights concerns.

“We are a mixed-method lab,” Deibert said. “I am a political scientist, but most of the people working for me are in computer science and engineering science. We employ these methods to lift the lid on the Internet. We do this in a variety of areas, one of which I will be speaking on.

“It is about tracking how nation-states and other actors hack into phones and devices of civil society, including civil rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and so on.”

One of the most high-profile cases the lab worked on was on Canadian citizen Omar Abdulaziz, who was a Canadian who spoke out against the authoritarian and repressive Saudi Arabian government. Abdulaziz was also a close associate of Jamal Kashoggi, who was a Saudi Arabian journalist who spoke out against Saudi Leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (MBS)

It is assumed that Kashoggi was murdered by what are assumed to be Saudi Arabia intelligence offices on the order of MBS.

“We see this as a rising epidemic and threat in our civil society and by extension our democracy,” Deibert said. “It is very much a growing threat. A confluence of factors is making this a growing threat.

“People are more and more digitally equipped and in many respects, this presents a threat to established forms of rule — especially unaccountable autocratic forms of rule.”

Deibert said that after the Arab Spring, which was a series of uprisings against oppressive regimes across the middle east, many authoritarian governments searched out new methods to stamp out resistance to their autocratic rules.

“They started taking counter-measures by finding companies who are ready and willing to supply them with sophisticated surveillance technologies,” he said. “These companies don’t particularly care about how their clients will use those technologies, so we are finding that products and services that are marketed under the rubric of fighting crime and terror are instead being used to infiltrate and abuse civil society.”

In the case of Kashoggi, Saudi state intelligence agencies ended up with Israeli spyware.

“They then use that technology, even though it is supposed to be strictly controlled to fight criminals and terrorists, to go after dissidents. Even if those dissidents live abroad, like Omar (Abdulaziz) does here in Canada,” Deibert said.

Saudi Arabia is just one of the many authoritarian regimes throughout the world who are using spyware to persecute journalists, lawyers, civil rights defenders and other legitimate members of society.

“The worst I would say is in Mexico, where we have identified 25 victims who have been targeted using Israeli spyware sold to the Mexican government,” he said. “None of these people are terrorists, they are journalists, human rights defenders, family members of journalists and even international investigators.”

He added these state agents are increasing, “Aggressive and are exercising power internationally.”

“When it comes to countries that are authoritarian-minded, which unfortunately is the majority and is growing, they are targeting people who they conceive as threats, criminals and terrorists. We in the west would consider them legitimate members of society.”

Diebert said the point of speaking out to the general public is to alert them to this growing international threat.

“Maybe in some cases overturn a conventional wisdom that many people have had for a long time where the Internet is advancing liberal democracy,” he said. “What I have seen over the last 20 years is the exact opposite.

“It has become perhaps the biggest threat to liberal democracy world-wide and it is enabling authoritarianism.”

“I want to warn people this is going on and the next step is to alert people to their own digital hygiene and practices. They need to think twice of the technology they rely on. They don’t understand how exposed they are.”

“If you Google securityplanner.org, it will come up. I highly recommend it,” he said.

Tickets to the event are free and can be booked in advance by clicking logging onto Burman University’s Eventbrite page.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Buccaneers pillage Irish 36-0

Central Alberta bounces back after off week against Wolfpack

Lacombe business drives home with CARS Magazine 2019 Shop of the Year Award

Lacombe Auto Service Centre Ltd. looking to keep evolving with industry

Lacombe Corn Maze celebrates 20 years in central Alberta

Kraay Family Farms will be celebrating the occasion all season

Lacombe’s Chairs for Charity is back for second year

75 chairs to be auctioned off in hopes of raising $10,000

Community mourns the deaths of two Maskwacis toddlers

Siblings found drowned on family’s property

WATCH: Lacombe AUPE members picket against Bill 9

Union members say their constitutional rights have been ignored

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Bashaw seed cleaning plant holds official opening

New facility operating well since January

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Most Read