UCL Computer Science


Gender and IoT

How will the Internet of Things (IoT) impact on gender-based domestic violence and abuse and what socio-technical measures will need to be implemented in order to mitigate against those risks?

Gender and IoT is an interdisciplinary project exploring the implications of IoT on gender-based domestic violence and abuse and has received funding from UCL's Collaborative Social Science Domain, the NEXTLEAP Project, UCL Public Policy, and the PETRAS IoT Research Hub.

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About the project 

Domestic violence and abuse continue to affect primarily women and girls, with more than 1.2 million females in England and Wales having reported domestic abuse cases ending March 2017.

In recent years, forms of online harassment and sexual abuse facilitated through information and communication technologies (ICT) emerged.

These ICT-supported assaults range from cyberstalking to online behavioral control. The UK domestic violence charity, Refuge, has warned about the rise of "tech abuse" and women-centred organisations have recently begun to provide guidance and training on the safe use of digital technologies.

While many of these efforts are concerned with 'conventional' cyber risks such as abuses on social media platforms and restrictions to devices such as laptops and phones, emerging "Internet of Things" technologies such as 'smart' meters, locks, and cameras expand domestic violence victim's risk trajectories further.

STEaPP researchers in collaboration with UCL's Department of Computer Science are conducting a research study that analyses these evolving IoT privacy and security risks in the context of domestic violence and abuse.

The research project should provide guidance for services that engage and help victims (e.g., women's shelters, police) as well as IoT developers that have to consider the potential misuse of their devices and services. It is run in collaboration with a wide user partner group, including the London VAWG ConsortiumPrivacy International, and the PETRAS IoT Research Hub.

Project Team (current and past members)

Leonie Tanczer UCL
Dr Leonie Tanczer - (Principle Investigator) Lecturer in International Security and Emerging Technologies

Dr Tanczer specialises in the intersection points of gender, technology, and security.

She has a background in Political Science and Gender Studies, has worked on questions of online sexism, surveillance and censorship.

Simon Parkin UCL
Dr Simon Parkin - (Co-PI) Senior Research Associate, UCL

Dr Parkin specialises in the usability of security technologies, articulating tensions between security, and other concerns such as productivity and privacy.

He has expertise in conducting multidisciplinary research, at the intersection of computer science, usable security and social sciences. He was previously a member of the Innovation Team at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Security Services.

George Danezis UCL
Professor George Danezis - Professor of Security and Privacy Engineering, UCL

Professor Danezis has been working on anonymous communications, privacy enhancing technologies (PET), and traffic analysis since 2000.

He has previously been a researcher for Microsoft Research, Cambridge; a visiting fellow at K.U.Leuven (Belgium); and a research associate at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Francesca Stevens UCL
Francesca Stevens

Francesca Stevens received her MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice from City, University of London, and recently completed a year of interdisciplinary research at the University of Kent.

Here she explored cyber abuse and adult victimisation, with a focus on online stalking and harassment. Her interests include the criminal justice system, cyber victimisation, mental health and gender equality. 

Lilly Neubauer UCL
Lilly Neubauer - PhD Candidate

Lilly Neubauer is currently a PhD Candidate in the Cybersecurity CDT at UCL, supervised by Dr Leonie Tanczer and Dr Enrico Mariconti.

Her research is looking at the digital traces of Coercive Control, investigating how Natural Language Proceessing techniques might be used to identify abusive and controlling behaviour. She completed her BSc in Computer Science at UCL in 2021.

Demelza Penaluna UCL
Demelza Penaluna - PhD Candidate

Demelza Penaluna is currently a PhD Candidate in the Cybersecurity CDT at UCL, supervised by Dr Leonie Tanczer and Professor Shane Johnson.

Her research seeks to understand the prevalence of technology-facilitated abuse (tech abuse) in the context of intimate partner relationships, investigating the understanding, assessments, and responses of the abuse services tasked with supporting survivors of tech abuse.

Demelza completed her MSc in War and Psychiatry at King's College London in 2017, and a BSc in Clinical Psychology at LSBU in 2015. 

Isabel Straw UCL
Dr Isabel Straw

Isabel specialises in the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI), clinical medicine and healthcare inequalities. She works part-time as an emergency doctor in addition to pursuing her PhD which focuses on supervised and unsupervised machine learning methods for bias mitigation in medical algorithms.

She has experience in international settings both in her clinical work, and in policy settings at the United Nations. Her interests include AI and neurotechnology, healthcare disparities, global health, and gender-based violence.

Trupti Patel UCL
Dr Trupti Patel - Research Associate, UCL Science and Technology Studies

Dr Trupti Patel is based at UCL Science and Technology Studies. She has recently passed her PhD in Nanotechnology conducted at UCL's London Centre for Nanotechnology and the National Physical Laboratory.

She is currently working on a project at STS on co-design of scientific research with the public.

Isabel Lopez-Neira UCL
Isabel Lopez-Neira - Research Assistant, Gender and IoT

Isabel Lopez Neira was a Research Assistant for the Gender and IoT project until July 2019. She has an MSc in Science, Technology and Society at the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies.

She is interested in the public perception of innovation and in the regulation of emerging technologies.

Julia Slupska UCL
Julia Slupska - Research Intern, Gender and IoT

Julia Slupska was a Research Intern for the Gender and IoT project between May and June 2019. She is a doctoral student at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity at the University of Oxford.

Her research focuses on the ethical implications of conceptual models of cybersecurity. 

User partners

London VAWG Consortium

The London VAWG Consortium is made up of 29 organisations working in partnership to deliver comprehensive, high quality services to communities delivering a range of support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence across London. 

Privacy International

Privacy International are a charity committed to the right to privacy and a visible public voice on the issue of data exploitation. They shine a light on overreaching state and corporate surveillance, with a focus on the sophisticated technologies and weak laws that enable serious incursions into our privacy. 

The PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub

The PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub is a consortium of nine leading UK universities which explore critical issues in privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security of the IoT. Funding for the Hub includes a £9.8 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which was boosted by partner contributions to approximately £24 million in total.

Media coverage

Research by the GIoT team has been featured in:

Watch Dr Leonie Tanczer's panel discussion with the Internet Society on Gender and IoT: The Implications of smart technologies on victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.


Policy briefings

Responses to consultations

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