Citizen Lab Security Researcher Morgan Marquis Boire attended RightsCon 2014, a conference designed to bring together leading human rights experts, investors, corporate leaders, engineers, activists, and government representatives from around the world. The conference took place from 3-5 March in San Francisco with over 700 attendees from 65 countries. Marquis-Boire gave a presentation titled, This Mess We’re In: the Surveillance Landscape and Coercion-Resistant Design.

For the last couple years, Marquis-Boire has focused on tracking and preventing digital attacks against high risk user groups – primarily journalists, dissidents, and activists. Increasingly, these attacks are being carried out by nation-states for espionage and surveillance purposes. Studying campaigns targeting activists in Morocco, Libya, Syria, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain during the so-called “Arab Spring” led to analysis of the global proliferation of a variety of ‘Western’ produced offensive solutions.

Against this backdrop, the talk contextualized recent surveillance revelations with the rise of the commercial market for offensive digital capability.