During the Spring semester, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Dr. Ron Deibert of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab about the power and influence of Cyber Warfare in the modern age — and issue that is undeniably prevalent in our day-to-day lives today.
Before breaching the issues of cyber warfare and internet security more broadly, Dr. Deibert first explained what his work has focused on throughout his career — explaining that it has primarily centered around the human rights concerns that have developed in the digital age.
Dr. Deibert explained that while these concerns vary rather significantly (touching on everything from media censorship to government surveillance to cellular privacy) they are all equally important, and perhaps most frightening, equally at risk.
Dr. Deibert went on to discuss how the media and the internet have evolved throughout the last two decades — pointing out that with every year our societies are becoming more and more connected on the local, national and global levels.
Dr. Deibert posited that while there are certainly benefits to this new-found connectivity, it comes with innumerous risks that could potentially outweigh the benefits. Perhaps one of Dr. Deibert’s most insightful points was that our level of global connectivity is increasing at a rate that outpaces our capacity to secure our data.
What I found to be most interesting about Dr. Deibert’s presentation was the way in which he linked this lack of cyber security with the resurgence of authoritarianism in the present-day political arena.
Citing numerous examples from recent campaigns in Europe and the United States, Dr. Deibert concluded that this rise in authoritarianism is due in large part to the increasing prominence of digital media in the modern world, and the government’s virtually unlimited capacity to not only survey but also directly influence the media and thus propagate their nationalistic agendas.