Profile of Citizen Lab and Ron Diebert

Here's a nice profile of Citizen Lab and its director, Ron Diebert.

Citizen Lab is a jewel. There should be more of them.

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 2:08 PM • 11 Comments

Comments

Ross SniderFebruary 7, 2017 3:35 PM

I would hope Citizen Lab would direct some of their attention at the FBI, US censorship and propaganda capabilities and US surveillance.

They seem really outward facing. Sure. China spys on dissidents. That doesn't help America that much unless you've already decided that ignoring US surveillance of dissidents is justified while China's is not (because "Murica!"/"Freedom(TM)!").

Great work, wonderful technical capacity. Would love to see them engage more consistently. Then though, they'll probably become another WikiLeaks, where they are considered a "shady" organization - rather than "Robin Hood."

RatioFebruary 7, 2017 8:15 PM

@Ross Snider,

They seem really outward facing. Sure. China spys on dissidents. That doesn't help America that much unless you've already decided that ignoring US surveillance of dissidents is justified while China's is not (because "Murica!"/"Freedom(TM)!").

Citizen Lab is Canadian.

david in torontoFebruary 7, 2017 10:03 PM

@Ross Snider,

Also, they are affiliated with the University or Toronto - so shady won't happen.

Not meFebruary 7, 2017 10:46 PM

"Why aren't there dozens of these places around the country, around the world?"

Have people tried, in countries other than Canada?

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsFebruary 7, 2017 11:36 PM

In late 2015 a post to this blog documented a subversion, a restatemnent of facts that detailed legislation before congress. H.R. 4681, the Intelligence Authorization Act. Material changes to the bill were posted to the authority of record, the library of congress, concealing the vial nature of the legislation. Section 309 had been replaced with text of section 310 and essentially rendered the bill harmless.

Of course after votes from floor, this bill was included in the omnibus bill--yet another betrayal, the corrected text appeared on the congessional resource at the library of congress. I knew that the dark secret of this bill could be explained or detailed by one word...nonpublic.

I believe Nick P can corroborate these facts.

Ross SniderFebruary 8, 2017 12:38 AM

@All

Thanks that's good information!

Think the comment still makes sense: namely, I still wish they would focus more on the US - and I guess now Canada. :)

IonFebruary 8, 2017 3:04 AM

A sensationalist click bait hero story that ends up reinforcing tribalism and passivity. Read the comments here, there, everywhere. All saying what the hero should do, none doing anything.

NSA is 100% an American product.
* paid by the taxes, incl. sales taxes
* empowered by the elected representatives
* supported by local judges and law enforcement
* built up by US contractors with US hardware
* and with, guess what, Americans as workers

Yet, when I read the press, the blogs, Facebook, the same Americans are somehow the victims or an unjust face.

First World Problems...

D-503February 8, 2017 12:11 PM

@Ross Snider "I still wish they would focus more on the US - and I guess now Canada. :)"

I think Citizen Lab does the best that can be done under current political conditions.
I don't know the political affiliations of any of the people at Citizen Lab, but I don't think their political affiliations would be relevant, for one simple reason: G. W. Bush's "Us" and G. W. Bush's "Them" use identical hardware and software. Technology is agnostic of the tribal identity of the user.
So any lessons learned in Dubai, for example, are easily applied to Toronto and New Orleans.

Why so little focus on the US and Canada?
Too much focus on the US and Canada would result in the following:
1) A 3 am raid by an RCMP SWAT team.
2) Sources of funding drying up.
3) Citizen Lab staff being fired by the University of Toronto.
Not necessarily in that order, but you get the picture. Canada, like the US and the rest of the world, is run by very primitive thinkers. To dredge up a couple of cliches: You have to pick your battles, and discretion is the better part of valor.

As it is, Citizen Lab skates on thin ice by defending dissidents in brutally repressive dictatorships that are closely allied with the governments of Canada and the US. I'm glad that they've been able to get away with it so far. Citizen Lab deserves praise for the great work they do.

Dirk PraetFebruary 8, 2017 12:52 PM

@ D-503

As it is, Citizen Lab skates on thin ice by defending dissidents in brutally repressive dictatorships that are closely allied with the governments of Canada and the US ... Citizen Lab deserves praise for the great work they do.

+1 . Well said.

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