An alleged sexual assault that coincided with a Citizen Lab event in 2014 was revealed in an open letter from Director Ronald Deibert, posted the Citizen Lab website last week. The alleged assaulter, Morgan Marquis-Boire, has been removed from his position as a security researcher and technical advisor with the lab.
According to the letter, posted on October 13, Marquis-Boire allegedly sexually assaulted another individual during the Citizen Lab-hosted Cyber Dialogue conference in March 2014.
In the letter, Deibert says Marquis-Boire requested to resign from the Citizen Lab’s technical advisory group in September, shortly before the accuser approached Deibert to inform him of the alleged sexual assault. Following this encounter, Deibert terminated Marquis-Boire’s position at the Citizen Lab.
Marquis-Boire also held positions at First Look Media, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. EFF has revoked affiliation with him following the sexual assault allegations.
Marquis-Boire did not respond to The Varsity’s attempts to contact him.
Deibert writes that he broached the possibility of pursuing legal action or going public with the unnamed individual, both of which the individual declined at the time. However, after a second consultation with the original party, Deibert wrote that he felt it was his “responsibility to make a public statement on behalf of the Citizen Lab.”
In the letter, Deibert states the Citizen Lab stands “behind survivors of sexual assault in all its forms, [supports] those who come forward to share their experiences, and [is] committed to creating safer spaces in our community.”
The letter indicates that the Citizen Lab incorporated a Code of Conduct in July 2017 to “clearly articulate what constitutes inappropriate behavior at events we organize.”
The Citizen Lab declined to comment beyond the scope of the letter. Similarly, U of T’s media relations did not directly address the alleged sexual assault, explaining to The Varsity that they were first made aware of the incident via Deibert’s letter on October 13.
In an interview for The Varsity regarding sexual violence policy at U of T, Executive Director, Personal Safety, High Risk and Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Terry McQuaid said, “We know that sexual violence is a broader societal issue, and universities are no different, they’re grappling with this issue as well.”
Deibert also alluded to the management of and attitudes toward sexual violence at the Citizen Lab in his letter. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely, are committed to ongoing internal dialogue, and aim to be responsive to feedback from our community,” Deibert writes. “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.”
Focused on global security research and development, the Citizen Lab is based out of the Munk School of Global Affairs at U of T. The Citizen Lab has hosted the Cyber Dialogue conference annually since 2011. The conference invites private and public voices to discuss cyberspace security and governance.
Editor’s Note (October 23): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the alleged sexual assault occurred at the Citizen Lab event. In fact, the alleged sexual assault coincided with the Citizen Lab event.