To all concerned:
In September 2017, I was made aware of an account of sexual assault involving Morgan Marquis-Boire that coincided with a Citizen Lab event, the Cyber Dialogue, in 2014. At Citizen Lab, we take all instances and reports of sexual assault very seriously and this is no exception.
Morgan Marquis-Boire contacted me to resign as a member of our technical advisory group shortly before I was made aware of this complaint. Once the other person involved reached out to me, and with that person’s consent, I spoke to Morgan about the reported assault. I subsequently removed him from the advisory group. I also acted to ensure that his access to internal communications channels and other digital assets was immediately revoked. The Citizen Lab is no longer working with Morgan Marquis-Boire in any capacity, formally or informally.
I asked the other party who brought the issue to our attention whether they wanted to pursue legal recourse, or go public, and how we could support them. They informed me that they did not wish to pursue legal recourse or go public at that time, and requested that we only discuss the matter internally within the Citizen Lab. Accordingly, I did not issue a public statement in September. Now that other accounts have been made public, and after consulting with the person who first brought the matter to our attention, I feel that it is my responsibility to make a public statement on behalf of the Citizen Lab.
We stand behind survivors of sexual assault in all its forms, support those who come forward to share their experiences, and are committed to creating safer spaces in our community. As part of our efforts to build more inclusive environments, we have incorporated our own Code of Conduct to guide our daily practices and to clearly articulate what constitutes inappropriate behaviour at events we organize. In particular, the Code affirms the necessity for explicit, conscious, and continuous consent; respects the autonomy of survivors in responding to all incidents of misconduct; and contains mechanisms to protect the confidentiality of those who come forward. In responding to this incident, we have done our best to act in accordance with those principles and will continue to do so.
Additionally, the University of Toronto has established clear, concise, and comprehensive policies that govern conduct for organizers and participants of events hosted by the University, including detailed policies on sexual assault. These policies expressly state what constitutes sexual assault, the consequences of a sexual assault-related violation, and mechanisms available to support survivors that come forward.
We are deeply troubled both by the information shared with us directly and by the information that has recently emerged in various media reporting over the last 24 hours. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, are committed to ongoing internal dialogue, and aim to be responsive to feedback from our community. This incident highlights that there is much work to be done to counter a toxic culture of sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence in many areas of the tech community, and we are fully committed to that fight. Community-building is one of the roles we are most proud of at the Citizen Lab. As we continue to forge new paths in research and education, we are committed to working toward safer and more inclusive experiences for everyone involved.
Director of the Citizen Lab and Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs