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Past research projects

 

NETWORK OF EXCELLENCE IN INTERNET SCIENCE (EINS) project, Co-Chair (July 2012 - May 2015 )

Within the EINS project I worked as a co-chair of the 'Internet Privacy and Identity, Trust and Reputation Mechanisms - JRA5' working group.

The explosion of content and data in the forms of messages, photos, videos and links in social networking sites and cloud computing servers across the Internet has raised questions about user privacy and the security of his/her data, concepts that are little understood even by experienced users.

Aiming to become a reference point for the coordination of studies in legislation and technology addressing privacy, identity, online trust and reputation, JRA5 drew together and further developed research on distributed social networks (such as Diaspora and Footlights), partial identities (PrimeLife), privacy-protective sensor networks (FRESNEL), privacy beliefs and behaviours (PVNets), online trust and reputation mechanisms. It integrated research efforts, scientific concepts and methodologies from computer science, psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, statistics, graph theory, behavioural economics and law, and investigated trade-offs between anonymity and accountability, and how decentralized privacy-enhanced systems can protect against spam, offensive content and criminal activities, while at the same time creating reliable and trusted mechanisms for online interaction based on reputation systems.

The basic goal of Internet Science for privacy and identity should be to find the right combination of autonomy (solving security and privacy issues a user cannot resolve) and user control, in a way that is comprehensible and likely to be accepted.

 

PRIVACY TRENDS project (April 2012 - April 2013)

This Google funded project will develop a tool, called Privacy Trends, that collects and aggregates online reports from social media platforms on the topic of privacy. These reports will in turn be summarised and visualised, the output of which will be presented to everyday Internet users as a way to sensitise them on ongoing privacy violations. The design of this tool will be informed by users’ needs. Thus, users will be involved in the early design process, which will result in a set of ‘requirements’ and design concepts.

Recent research in computational linguistics and information visualisation can be applied to summarise the rich and accessible sources of online information produced about privacy. This can drive the design of new applications that will educate users on why and how privacy may be compromised, enabling them to participate in the privacy debate as informed stakeholders. Such tools can also help users reflect on their own technological practices, motivating them to take proportionate actions to protect their privacy. Principal Investigator of this project is Dr. Mina Vasalou from the Centre of Human-Computer Interaction, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.

 

INTEGRATED MOBILE SECURITY KIT (IMSK) project (September 2012 - December 2012)

The continuously evolving threat of unpredictable terrorist activity demands the innovative application of existing and developing technology for the protection of the EU’s citizens. The Integrated Mobile Security Kit (IMSK) project will combine technologies for area surveillance; checkpoint control; sniper detection; CBRNE detection and support for VIP protection into a mobile system for rapid deployment at venues and sites (hotels, sport/festival arenas, etc) which temporarily need enhanced security.

To succeed, the project will employ legacy and novel sensor technologies, design a system (IMSK) that will integrate sensor information to provide a common operational picture where information is fused into intelligence, perform a field demonstration to validate the concept, adapt the system to local security forces and finally disseminate the results after accreditation by end-users. The development of IMSK will be heavily founded on advice derived from operational security professionals.

My role on the project will be to look at the privacy implications of the different sub-systems developed in IMSK and to examine whether the developers have taken into account the Privacy Impact Assessment reports.

 

 

SESERV project (April 2011 - August 2012)

I worked on the European project SESERV (Socio-Economic Services for European Research Projects) together with Dr. Eric Meyer. The SESERV consortium aimed to maximize research impact by raising awareness of socio-economic trends in the areas of incentives, accounting, Digital Europe, and risk management, and by addressing possible policy priorities within the research community.

The Internet has evolved from the largely static Information super Highway of the 1990s to a critical infrastructure supporting all aspects of life in the 21st century. The European Commission is making significant investment in Future Internet research with the aim of ensuring European competitiveness in the face of globalization and emerging societal challenges. It is critical to ensure that the investment in ICT research contributes effectively to the European sustainability and welfare. The SESERV Support Action provided an approach for coordinating selected areas in socio-economics of FP7 projects to offer access to both socio-economic and technical experts in an integrated manner, while investigating the relationship between Future Internet technology, society and the economy.

The SESERV Coordination Action filled the gap between socio-economic priorities and the Future Internet research community by offering selected socio-economic services to FP7 projects in Challenge 1. SESERV provided access to socio-economic experts investigating the relationship between Future Internet technology, society, and the economy through white papers, workshops, and research consultancy.

 

PVN project (April 2009 - December 2011)

Privacy Value Networks was a major three-year research project that produced an empirical base for developing concepts of privacy across contexts and timeframes. Despite many studies there is still a lack of clarity of what privacy is and what it means to different stakeholders in different scenarios of use. The cost and benefit of collecting and storing data about individuals has not been properly examined, and the value of holding information about individuals for specific purposes is not understood. The goal of the Privacy Value Networks project was to develop and apply new methodologies for the study of privacy and to help government and business to understand the value of personal data, as well as the value and risks for other stakeholders.

The project involved collaboration between the Oxford Internet Institute, the University of Bath, UCL and St. Andrew's University and was funded by EPSRC grant EP/G00260/1 with support from the ESRC and TSB.

 

eTRUST project (April 2007 - May 2009)

In April 2007 I started a research project at the Oxford Internet Institute. I had been granted a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (funded by the European Commission under its Sixth Framework Programme) to conduct my post-doctoral research on the topic of 'E-democracy technologies and the problem of public trust'.

The aims of e-democracy are to increase people's choices as to how they can participate, have their voices heard and their views considered, and to restore their trust in government - but does this governmental strategy really work? I focused on the question 'Does e-democracy increase trust in government, and, if so, under what conditions?'

The current search for technological solutions to the problem of distrust in government seems to be paradoxical because, to increase public trust and confidence, governments will be relying on information and communication systems that themselves require a high level of trust. Information technology is poorly understood by many people, which may reduce their trust in the technology, as well as in governments that use ICTs. Socio-economic variations amongst citizens in terms of age, gender, income, education, geographic location and other characteristics are also expected to influence their level of trust in ICTs. A second question was therefore examined: 'How does trust or distrust in e-democracy technologies influence the use of these technologies and tools?'

 

 

WIJ VERTROUWEN STEMCOMPUTERS NIET campaign (2006 - 2008)

 

As a result of my research on e-voting technologies, I became co-founder and board member of the Dutch ‘Wij Vertrouwen Stemcomputers Niet’ [We do not trust voting computers] Foundation. Our foundation strived for transparent and verifiable elections and had wide public and political impact.

 

As a direct result of the campaign parliamentary questions were asked, short-term adjustments were made to the then-existing e-voting systems and two independent committees were established by government to investigate the electoral process. This ultimately led to the decertification of all voting computers in the Netherlands.

 

 

TRUEVOTE project (October 2001 - October 2003)

From the 1st of October 2001 I started work on another EU project called TRUEVOTE together with Prof. Peter van den Besselaar. The TruE-Vote project aimed at developing a secure and trusted voting system, where "secure" concerned the technological aspects and "trusted" the social ones. In this project we investigated the technical feasibility and the social acceptability of introducing electronic voting systems.

Improving citizenships and e-democracy through networking technologies is part of the overall goal of creating the Information Society which needs to be validated through concrete initiatives. These 'experiments' (even though the word is not probably the best as people are involved) have to consider several issues including:

  • giving everybody access to the Information Society;
  • providing people with a more convenient access to government information and services;
  • closing the communication gap between citizens and government institutions, i.e., giving people a chance to directly dialogue with their representatives, both at local and national level;
  • introducing new voting systems.

These topics are to some extent independent, but also mutually coupled. Moreover, it is necessary to consider the strict interplay between the technological and the cultural, socio-political aspects. A new technology for voting may be accepted or rejected by citizens depending on the socio-technical context in which it is proposed to them.

 

FASME project (February 2000 - September 2001)

In February 2000 I started to work full-time on a EU project called FASME. The main objective of FASME was to develop an application which facilitates the administrative services needed when citizens change the place where they live, e.g. car registration services and driving licence. The technical platform was a so-called JavaCard; a Smartcard based on the object-oriented programming language Java. In order to base all technical developments on the actual needs and demands of those people who will use the JavaCard, the user needs were identified during workshops with users and civil servants from different countries. At the same time, the technical specifications of the application scenarios were defined and generalised in order to obtain a framework for the modelling of processes, access rights, and access needs.

At the University of Amsterdam we were responsible for the more social aspects. We analysed the social, institutional, political and legal issues related to the design and the implementation of the FASME-system. We also analysed interests of various groups involved in the use of the FASME-system and issues that may influence the acceptance of the system by the larger public. The emphasis was put on privacy issues, information ownership issues and administrative and legal issues. As the FASME system was meant for use in all European countries, the analysis included a description of the differences between social, institutional, political and legal issues in the countries involved. The Amsterdam Team consisted of Prof. Peter van den Besselaar, Prof. Sally Wyatt, Anne-Marie Oostveen, Erica Gasataya and Iam Hooijen.

 

SOEIS project (April 1999 - January 2000)

In April 1999 I started to work parttime at the University of Amsterdam on my first European project called SOEIS. The abbreviation SOEIS stands for "Self-Organization of the European Information Society".

 

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