Talk about the promise and the peril of artificial intelligence is everywhere these days. But for many low-income families, communities of color, military veterans, people with disabilities, and immigrant communities, AI is a back-burner issue. Their day-to-day worries revolve around taking care of their health, navigating the economy, seeking educational opportunities, and upholding democracy. But their worries are also being amplified through advanced, persistent, and targeted cyberattacks.
Cyber operations are relentless, growing in scale, and exacerbate existing inequalities in health care, economic opportunities, education access, and democratic participation. And when these pillars of society become unstable, the consequences ripple through national and global communities. Collectively, cyberattacks have severe and long-term impacts on communities already on the margins of society. These attacks are not just a technological concern—they represent a growing civil rights crisis, disproportionately dismantling the safety and security for vulnerable groups and reinforcing systemic barriers of racism and classism. The United States currently lacks an assertive response to deter the continued weaponization of cyber operations and to secure digital access, equity, participation, and safety for marginalized communities.
Cyberattacks on hospitals and health care organizations more than doubled in 2023, impacting over 39 million people in the first half of 2023. A late-November cyberattack at the Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, led to a system-wide shutdown, causing ambulances to reroute and life-saving surgeries to be canceled. These attacks impact patients' reliance and trust in health care systems, which may make them more hesitant to seek care, further endangering the health and safety of already vulnerable populations.
The scale and prevalence of these attacks weaken publi...