Sony, North Korea, and Human Rights

Sony, North Korea, and Human Rights

Jamie Metzl

The recent cyberattack on Sony, allegedly perpetrated by North Korea, highlights a dangerous increase in the vulnerability of our globalized world. Now that cyber-aggressive states like China, North Korea, Russia, and others have the tools and the playbook to steal essential secrets, wreak havoc, and essentially wipe out billions of dollars if value in global companies, our world will not be the same. Until we can develop real security (with governments playing a far more active role protecting their citizens and economies), some type of international standards, or ensure that the potential cost to attackers is greater than the benefit, we will remain vulnerable, continue to lose billions in stolen intellectual property, and see the speech rights of citizens and corporations alike limited tragically.

In the case of North Korea, I at least hope the profile of this incident will carry over to greater media coverage of the human rights report and resolution working its way through the United Nations. In February, the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK issued its report, accusing North Korea of Crimes Against Humanity, including torture, murder, starvation, and keeping up to 120,000 people in gulags (here is a short summary of the findings, for a terrifying look into these camps, read the harrowing Escape from Camp 14). Last month, the UN General Assembly voted to send the resolution, which calls for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court, to the UN Security Council. This will happen next week. Although a China/Russia veto is all but certain, the Security Council debate will be an important opportunity for people around the world to raise their voices about the terrible human rights violations. No nation is perfect, certainly not the United States, but North Korea is really in a class by itself.

I’ve been doing a number of interviews on this topic over recent days. If you’d like, please have a look at my conversations on CNN with Jake TapperMSNBC with Alex Wagner, and CBS News with Anne-Marie Green.