We’re aware of recent news about a lawsuit brought against DarkMatter and three of its former employees, which came to our attention through media reports. The details of this civil case and the allegations in it (including those that relate to our employee Daniel Gericke) are new information to all of us.
To be clear: We unequivocally support the EFF and Loujain AlHathloul in seeking justice. The cause they are championing aligns directly with our mission.
ExpressVPN has been dedicated to building a safer, freer internet from the start—in fact, our goal at founding was to provide more effective and accessible censorship circumvention tools than had previously been available. Our belief in the digital rights of the individual has been the guiding light for our work for more than a decade.
Our product helps people better protect themselves from surveillance, circumvent censorship, and safeguard their rights. We know that this is crucial for activists, and we’ve worked directly with many organizations and activists to enable their work. We have supported rights defenders financially and otherwise, particularly across the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Much of what we do to support oppressed communities and individuals must necessarily remain confidential for the safety of those at risk.
Our commitment to protecting the vulnerable has directly informed the technologies we’ve created. It’s why we developed what we believe is the only VPN protocol built from the ground up to support obfuscation, which is critical in countries where censorship is rife. We became the first major provider to engineer our VPN servers to run on RAM only because we understand all too well the risks of servers being seized—sometimes by state actors. Our defense of privacy extends well beyond the products we supply, so we also support independent research, including a recent report that uncovered and reduced the prevalence of invasive tracking in apps.
When we hired Daniel Gericke, we knew that his deep understanding of offensive capabilities would help make our products—and thus users—safer. He came to us with firsthand knowledge not only of the technical tools that governments use to combat enemies, but also of how these very tools can be misused.
At CyberPoint and then DarkMatter, Daniel signed on for a counterterrorism mission. He was shocked and appalled to see how that original mission was subverted and co-opted. He left his position as a direct result.
This experience cemented Daniel’s commitment to improving digital safety and ultimately drove his decision to join ExpressVPN to help further our goals. We have never found reason to doubt his sincerity or dedication to providing the best possible security for internet users worldwide. In a company of passionate rights defenders, he stands out as a fierce advocate for measures that go above and beyond in protecting our users.
While we can’t comment on the particulars of the legal case, we were surprised to see Daniel named personally. He was an employee of DarkMatter who helped to build automated systems with a counterterrorism purpose; he didn’t choose the targets of these systems or launch the exploits against targets, nor did he know of activists and journalists being among such targets until it was reported in the media. He had not previously heard of Loujain AlHathloul.
We trust that when all the facts come to light, Daniel will be dropped from the lawsuit and exonerated. We hope that those responsible for the persecution of human rights activists will be held to account. We condemn such oppression of freedom by any government or entity in the strongest possible terms and denounce the treatment of activists like Loujain AlHathloul. Our wish for this case is that it not only obtains justice for her, but also sets a new precedent for corporate and government accountability for breaches of privacy, security, and human rights.