Ronald Deibert

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Ronald Deibert

Ronald Deibert
Deibert at re:publica conference, 2014
Alma materThe University of British Columbia (BA, PhD)
Queen's University (MA)
OccupationFounding Director, Citizen Lab
EmployerUniversity of Toronto

Ronald J. Deibert OOnt (born 1964)[1] is a Canadian professor of political science, philosopher, and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.[2] The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory focusing on research, development, and high-level strategic policy and legal engagement at the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights, and global security.[3] He is a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative and Information Warfare Monitor projects.[4] Deibert was one of the founders and former VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon.

He is a co-editor of three major volumes with MIT Press: Access Denied: The practice and policy of Internet Filtering (2008),[5] Access Controlled: The shaping of power, rights, and rule in cyberspace (2010),[6] and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace (2011).[7] He is the author of Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communications in World Order Transformation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997)[8] and Black Code: Surveillance, Privacy, and the Dark Side of the Internet,[9] published in May 2013 by Penguin Random House and turned into a feature-length documentary by Nick De Pencier in 2017.[10]

Deibert was selected to deliver the prestigious 2020 CBC Massey Lectures.[11][12] The book that accompanies the series, entitled RESET: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society, was published in 2020 by House of Anansi Press.[13] The six lectures were broadcast on CBC radio and made available on CBC Ideas podcast in November 2020.[14]

As Director of the Citizen Lab, Deibert has overseen and been a contributing author to more than 120 reports[15] covering path breaking research on cyber espionage, commercial spyware, Internet censorship, and human rights. These reports include the landmark Tracking Ghostnet[16] report (which uncovered an espionage operation that infiltrated the computer networks of hundreds of government offices, NGOs, and other organizations, including those of the Dalai Lama), China’s Great Cannon[17] (an offensive tool used to hijack digital traffic through Distributed Denial of Service attacks), the Kingdom Came to Canada[18] (an investigation of a Canadian permanent resident, Saudi dissident, and Khashoggi colleague who was targeted with commercial spyware), and the Reckless Series[19] (an investigation into the abuse of commercial spyware to target journalists, anti-corruption advocates, and public health officials in Mexico). These reports have been cited widely in global media, garnering 25 front page exclusives in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other leading outlets, and have been cited by policymakers, academics, and civil society as foundational to the understanding of digital technologies, human rights, and global security.

Deibert presently serves on the editorial boards of the journals International Political Sociology,[20] Explorations in Media Ecology,[21] Review of Policy Research,[22] Journal of Global Security Studies,[23] and Astropolitics.[24] He has served on the advisory boards of Access Now, Privacy International, the technical advisory groups of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and is currently on the advisory boards of PEN Canada and the Design4Democracy Coalition,[25] the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy, the advisory board for the Citizen Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley,[26] and co-chair of the University of Toronto's Information Security Council.[27] In 2020, he gave the annual Massey Lectures for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and they were published in book form under the title Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society.[28]

In recognition of his own work or that of the Citizen Lab, Deibert has been awarded the University of Toronto's President's Impact Award[29] (2017), Foreign Policy's Global Thinker Award[30] (2017), the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer award[31] (2015), the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity[32] (2014), the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award from the Canadian Library Association[33] (2014), the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Vox Libera Award[34] (2010), the Carolyn Tuohy Award for Public Policy[35] (2010), the Northrop Frye Distinguished Teaching and Research Award (2003), and the University of Toronto Outstanding Teaching Award (2002).[36] He was a Ford Foundation research scholar of information and communication technologies (2002–2004).[37] In 2019, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Guelph.[38]

He was named a Global Thinker by Foreign Policy (2017), one of Motherboard website's "Humans of the Year"[39] (2017), listed among SC Magazine's top "IT Security Luminaries"[40] (2010), and Esquire magazine's Best and Brightest List of 2007.[41]

In 2013, he was made a Member of the Order of Ontario[42] and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, for being “among the first to recognize and take measures to mitigate growing threats to communications rights, openness and security worldwide.”[42]


  1. ^ Scott Anderson says. "The Troublemaker". University of Toronto. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  2. ^ "BPR Interview: Citizens Lab Director Ronald Deibert". Brown Political Review. 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2016-01-09. BPR interviewed Ronald Deibert, director of Citizens Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, an interdisciplinary research organization focusing at the intersection of internet, global security and human rights.
  3. ^ "About the Citizen Lab". The Citizen Lab. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  4. ^ Hart, Kim (2008-08-27). "A new breed of hackers tracks online acts of war". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
  5. ^ Press, The MIT. "Access Denied". The MIT Press. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  6. ^ Press, The MIT. "Access Controlled". The MIT Press. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  7. ^ Press, The MIT. "Access Contested". The MIT Press. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  8. ^ Deibert, Ronald (September 1997). Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication and World Order Transformation. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-10713-6.
  9. ^ "Black Code".
  10. ^ "Mongrel Media".
  11. ^ "2020 Massey Lectures: Renowned tech expert Ronald J. Deibert to explore disturbing impact of social media | CBC Radio". CBC. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  12. ^ "Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society | CBC Radio". CBC. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  13. ^ "Reset". House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  14. ^ "Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society | CBC Radio". CBC. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  15. ^ "Publications". The Citizen Lab. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  16. ^ "Tracking Ghostnet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network" (PDF).
  17. ^ "China's Great Cannon". The Citizen Lab. 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  18. ^ "The Kingdom Came to Canada: How Saudi-Linked Digital Espionage Reached Canadian Soil". The Citizen Lab. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  19. ^ "Bitter Sweet: Supporters of Mexico's Soda Tax Targeted With NSO Exploit Links". The Citizen Lab. 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  20. ^ "Editorial Board". Oxford Academic. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  21. ^ "Media Ecology Association - Explorations in Media Ecology". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  22. ^ "Review of Policy Research". Wiley Online Library. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  23. ^ "Editorial Board". Oxford Academic. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  24. ^ "Astropolitics". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  25. ^ "Ronald Deibert". D4D Coalition. 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  26. ^ "Citizen Clinic - CLTC UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity". CLTC. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  27. ^ "Newly formed Information Security Council at U of T | ITS | University of Toronto". Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  28. ^ "Kobo catalog listing: Reset by Ronald J. Diebert". Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  29. ^ "U of T honours seven researchers whose impact reaches beyond academia". University of Toronto News. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  30. ^ "Ronald Deibert named 2017 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy Magazine | Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  31. ^ Release, Press (2015-08-26). "EFF Announces 2015 Pioneer Award Winners: Caspar Bowden, Citizen Lab, Anriette Esterhuysen and the Association for Progressive Communications, and Kathy Sierra". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  32. ^ "Confronting Technology" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  33. ^ "Canadian Library Association | CLA Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  34. ^ "Media Room & Blue Book – University of Toronto". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  35. ^ "Ron Deibert receives Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award". Department of Political Science, University of Toronto. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  36. ^ "U of T Teaching Awards". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  37. ^ "Profile of U of T Citizen Lab Professor Ron Deibert". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  38. ^ "Ronald Deibert receives honorary degree from University of Guelph | Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  39. ^ Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (2017-02-06). "Ron Deibert's Lab Is the 'Robin Hood' of Cybersecurity". Motherboard. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  40. ^ "Top of the heap: 2010's IT security luminaries". SC Media. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  41. ^ "The Best and Brightest 2007". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  42. ^ a b "25 Appointees Named to Ontario's Highest Honour". Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

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