Writing in the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs, Ronald Deibert, Director of Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies said that threats to human rights and individual liberties come from a variety of states – from authoritarian regimes, to Latin American narco-states to liberal democracies in the West, as governments increasingly leverage the power of the Internet to monitor citizens’ behavior and impose limits on free expression.
Sophisticated, global cyber criminal operations are part of that – thriving and innovating even as law enforcement struggles to pursue criminal organizations across international boundaries. Even more concerning are the ways in which “the worlds of cyber crime are blurring into acts of espionage, sabotage and even warfare,” he said.
And, while conventional wisdom has long assumed authoritarian regimes would wither in the face of the unfettered access to information provided by the Internet, Deibert said that, in some cases, just the opposite is true. Regimes, including those in China, Syria, Vietnam and Iran “have successfully employed second and third generation control techniques to penetrate and immobilize opposition, cultivating a climate of fear and self-censorship,” he said."