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The internet’s promise as an open platform for free expression and assembly has come under increasing threat as governments, hate groups, terrorists, and multinational corporations have deployed sophisticated attacks against the operations and legitimacy of civil society organizations, journalists, researchers, and human rights defenders.
Some responses have emerged to combat this threat — improved security product offerings for nonprofits, emergency response funds for organizations under attack — but if the scale of the problem is the whole of online civil society, assistance models must find methods to address a monumental volume of need. Citizen Clinic — the world’s first public interest cybersecurity clinic — is researching the barriers to scaling technical assistance projects and using its experience supporting politically targeted organizations to examine how efforts to protect online freedom can meet the growing need.
Sean Brooks is the director of the Citizen Clinic and a research fellow at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley. As director, he manages the Clinic’s relationships with client organizations and external partners, develops the educational agenda for the clinic, and manages the clinic’s staff and researchers. His research at CLTC is focused on understanding effective technical assistance models for civil society organizations at risk of cyberattacks.