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Gender and IoT

How will 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 in IoT

Project Background
Gender and IoT is an interdisciplinary project exploring the implications of IoT on gender-based domestic violence and abuse and is funded by a Social Science Plus+award from UCL's Collaborative Social Science Domain.

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 Consortium, Privacy International, and the PETRAS IoT Research Hub.

Project Team

Leonie Tanczer

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

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

Prof 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).

User icon

Isabel Lopez Neira - Research Associate, UCL STEaPP

Isabel is a MSc in Science, Technology and Society graduate from the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies and has a particular interest in public perception of innovation and policy on emerging technologies.

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. All of these 29 organisations have real-world, practical insights into technological abuse and coercive control, and believe they would strongly benefit from our research and the engagement with us on this project.

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. Privacy International's Articles of Association state that the charity's objective is to promote the human right of privacy throughout the world, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent United Nations conventions and declarations.

PETRAS

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. This project runs in collaboration with IoTUK, coordinated by University College London with Imperial College London, Lancaster University, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, University of Southampton, and University of Surrey.