UCL researchers launch guide and resource list on IoT-facilitated tech abuse

By Dr Leonie Tanczer
PETRAS Research Associate

UCL researchers, Dr Leonie TanczerDr Simon ParkinDr Trupti Patel and Professor George Danezis launched a guide and a resource list for frontline workers and support services working with victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

Principal Investigator and PDRA for the PETRAS Standards, Governance and Policy Stream, Dr Leonie Tanczer, said: “The guide aims to help support services talk about abuse carried out using ‘smart’, internet-connected devices. In the course of our research we realised that both voluntary and statutory support services require the necessary level of knowledge to understand but also to articulate, for instance to the police, how IoT devices are being misused.”

The research team developed the material following their six months feasibility study funded by a Social Science Plus+ award from UCL’s Collaborative Social Science Domain.

The project was developed with support from three stakeholders, including the London VAWG Consortium, made up of 29 organisations all of which support survivors of domestic and sexual violence across London; Privacy International, a charity committed to the right to privacy and a visible public voice on the issue of data exploitation; and The PETRAS IoT Hub.

The release of the material drew some media attention, with the BBCThe Verge and Gizmodo reporting on the issue.

The launch followed a recent New York Times article detailing ways in which domestic abusers may exploit IoT systems such as doorbells, speakers, and thermostats to harass their partners.

The ongoing interest in this topic highlights the relevance of the research team’s efforts, who have begun their analysis in January 2018.