Almost every day we get a reminder that the Internet is both wondrous and a dark and scary place. An important one came when we learned that a judge in the United Kingdom found that the ruler of Dubai hacked the phone of his ex-wife and her lawyers in an unlawful abuse of power.
We must respond with a call to action.
Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have made researching and exposing online corporate malfeasance their mission. They have documented the rise of firms that create and export products and services that hack and surveil individuals without their knowledge or consent, perpetuate disinformation, and create cyber-insecurity. The U.N. has described some of the firms producing such goods and services as cyber mercenaries, a 21st-century update of an old business model. Because the products and services these firms provide undermine human rights, democracy, encryption and online trust, they are a threat to us all.