In the 2020 CBC Massey Lectures, bestselling author and renowned technology and security expert Ronald J. Deibert exposes the disturbing influence and impact of the internet on politics, the economy, the environment, and humanity.
Digital technologies have given rise to a new machine-based civilization that is increasingly linked to a growing number of social and political maladies. Accountability is weak and insecurity is endemic, creating disturbing opportunities for exploitation.?
Drawing from the cutting-edge research of the Citizen Lab, the world-renowned digital security research group which he founded and directs, Ronald J. Deibert exposes the impacts of this communications ecosystem on civil society. He tracks a mostly unregulated surveillance industry, innovations in technologies of remote control, superpower policing practices, dark PR firms, and highly profitable hack-for-hire services feeding off rivers of poorly secured personal data. Deibert also unearths how dependence on social media and its expanding universe of consumer electronics creates immense pressure on the natural environment.?In order to combat authoritarian practices, environmental degradation, and rampant electronic consumerism, he urges restraints on tech platforms and governments to reclaim the internet for civil society.
RONALD J. DEIBERT is professor of Political Science and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab undertakes interdisciplinary research at the intersection of global security, information and communications technologies, and human rights. The research outputs of the Citizen Lab are routinely covered in global media, including more than two dozen reports that received exclusive front-page coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other global media over the last decade. Deibert is the author of Black Code: Surveillance, Privacy, and the Dark Side of the Internet,as well as numerous books, chapters, articles, and reports on internet censorship, surveillance, and cybersecurity.
PRAISE FOR RONALD J. DEIBERT AND RESET
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
“No one has done more than Ron Deibert and his lab to expose the enemies of the internet — shadowy companies whose sole business is to make it unsafe for all of us. No one is better placed to explain the intersection of law and technology that makes these abuses possible — and how we can put an end to them. Reset is the definitive narrative of where we went wrong and a last chance to make things right.” — Edward Snowden
“Tech is at a crossroads between oppression and liberation, and Ronald J. Deibert is our leading expert on the forces steering it in either direction. Reset is a road map revealing the secret alleys and byways that brought us to this juncture, and the ways ahead that we could navigate to a better future.” — Cory Doctorow, bestselling author of Radicalized and Walkaway
“One thing is for sure: your phone knows a lot more about you than you know about it. Ronald J. Deibert expertly cracks open our gadgets and electronics to reveal the who, what, and why behind our communications infrastructure. From digital espionage to big-data policing, Reset is a timely and critical look at how cutting-edge surveillance technologies are being weaponized against civil society. With the rise of authoritarianism around the world, Deibert’s book is a must-read for all who want to ensure that dark power stays in check.” — Ziya Tong, science broadcaster and author of The Reality Bubble
“Ronald J. Deibert is a rare hybrid who combines an advanced understanding of computer technology with a rich background in political science. He is also already a legend in security and tech circles because of his work as the founder and director of Citizen Lab … In Reset, Deibert outlines with tremendous economy and verve the major threats that face us as a consequence of our rapidly growing dependency on internet technologies, AI, robotics, and, further down the line, machine-to-machine learning and quantum computing. The clarity of his writing enables Deibert to categorize each aspect of the threat on a profound level that will nonetheless be accessible to any reader … Covid-19 has made it clear that our globalized world faces fundamental challenges to the survival of our species, along with most others. If we listen to Ron Deibert, we are still in position to head off another of those threats.” — Misha Glenny, bestselling author of McMafia and DarkMarket
“A reset is needed in the relation between privately run technologies and the public interest. Ron Deibert sketches what meaningful change looks like. Ron has been at the heart of analyzing the harms of technology to human rights, and increasingly to the human condition, for decades. His deep research and clear moral compass make his plea for a ‘reset’ an urgent one. To technology experts this book shines a clear light forward beyond current headline-grabbing incidents. To readers new to the depth of effects of the online information ecosystem, it is essential reading to gain clarity on where our values are at stake, and how we may preserve them.” — Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director of the Cyber Policy Center, Stanford University, and President of the CyberPeace Institute
“Reset is a shocking call to action and a persuasively argued book. It is the sort of text one hopes will be read widely … After all, a reset of the basic infrastructure of life will only come through a profound political reckoning — and like the foment of 1968, it may just be a reconceptualization of what we want and why we want it that finally drives change.” — Quill & Quire
“In clear, concise language, Ronald J. Deibert sounds the alarm about social media’s most dangerous and pervasive threats to human autonomy, from the commodification of data to the ever-expanding reach of the surveillance state to the proliferation of disinformation and other tools of manipulation. Paired with urgent warnings about the perils of our online world, Deibert’s three-pronged formula for change — retreat, reform, restraint – is an urgent call we all should heed.” — Quill & Quire
PRAISE FOR RONALD J. DEIBERT AND BLACK CODE
“Black Code is terrifying. It effortlessly chronicles threats ranging from individual privacy to national security … [highlighting] the shadowy, lucrative war online, behind closed doors and in the halls of power, which threatens to control, censor, and spy on us, or worse.” — National Post
“Gripping and absolutely terrifying … Black Code is a manifesto for the twenty-first-century form of network stewardship, a sense of shared responsibility toward our vital electronic water supply. It is a timely rallying cry, and sorely needed.” — Cory Doctorow, Globe and Mail
“Ron Deibert is an excellent guide to the fascinating and disturbing world of cyber security.” — Joseph S. Nye Jr., distinguished service professor, Harvard University, and author of The Future of Power
“For more than a decade, Ron Deibert’s Citizen Lab has been at the forefront of decoding actions both crude and subtle to disrupt internet access and usage. A path from the Dalai Lama’s hacked laptop to a worldwide espionage ring is but one tale of many of the Lab’s singular exploits — now gathered here in this compelling volume that chronicles the ongoing wars amidst the internet’s rise.” — Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Law and professor of Computer Science, Harvard University, and author of The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It
“At a time when autocrats, criminal gangs, and others are trying to control and pervert the use of cyberspace, Ron Deibert’s Black Code rings like a fire bell in the night, warning us that the price of a new global commons of shared knowledge and connectivity is vigilance in defense of free expression and the rule of law. Anyone who cares about the future of democracy needs to read this timely and most important book.” — Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy
“Black Code stimulated my thinking about the potential for making the internet a much safer place.” — Vint Cerf, internet pioneer and “Father of the Internet”
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