Digital Responsibility

About this theme

The Research Institute for Sociotechnical Cyber Security (RISCS) is sponsoring a fellowship in Digital Responsibility. The topic is fundamental to the success of digital security: without considering security as a reciprocal arrangement where the well- being of all parties are considered, security responsibilities can feel one-sided, leading to an erosion of trust in technology and diminishing the benefits and take-up of technological approaches.

What Digital Responsibility is and why it matters: We have reciprocal responsibilities to each other to ensure safe and secure use of digital technologies. A focus on Digital Responsibility helps us to build a positive and healthy relationship with digital technology and use it in a way that minimises harm and helps to increase the benefits for all.

What we want to achieve: The fellowship will be used to develop guiding principles of Digital Responsibility from current practice and research. It will develop practical advice for implementation. It will consider how Digital Responsibility contributes to the resilience of an organisation and of society. It will look at how the value of Digital Responsibility can be measured.

How we would like to achieve it: We are gathering examples of Digital Responsibility in practice, and examples of where Digital Responsibility is needed across business and government. We are also bringing together ideas for how to measure the success of Digital Responsibility programmes and practices.

Who we’d like to work with: We would like to work with as many people as possible across business, government and academia who are interested in ideas of Digital Responsibility. We’re particularly keen to engage with businesses, policy makers and researchers who are interested in how institutions and organisations produce positive impact from what they do and the relationships they have with digital technology to achieve that. Examples include:

  • Businesses focused on the positive impact of business activities for employees, customers, and society

  • Responsible research and innovation, which addresses ethical implications of technology research and innovation

  • Digital inclusion: a strand of both research and public policy which considers issues of digital exclusion (in particular, technology access and technology use), with a view to reducing the barriers to digital access

  • Social inclusion: a strand of both research and public policy which considers issues of social exclusion and isolation with a view to reducing social exclusion and the harms associated with it

  • e-Safety and Cyber Security which address both safe technology use and the protection of the technology and data.

By bringing together these areas of research and practice, we can produce tools and understandings with which to design and implement digital technologies so that protection is afforded to people in ways that they need to be productive and creative.

Examples of Digital Responsibility: In the initial development of this fellowship programme, we asked people across industry, government and third sector for examples of where acts of Digital Responsibility would improve the security of both people and digital services and products. Examples include:

  • A business that made reciprocal acts of security central to digital transformation by encouraging staff to co-design the processes, roles and tasks that form around new technologies in order both to minimise the harms from change and to widen the benefits that the new technologies made possible.

  • A local government organisation that engaged security experts to provide clear and actionable security advice tailored to the local context. In return local government would implement this advice for the benefit of all within the local authority.

  • A third sector organisation that reported the benefits of promoting a culture of ‘helping each other’ to build a digitally secure world through the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

Evaluation and impact: We intend to develop a roadmap to support policy-makers, business and technologists in adopting Digital Responsibility as an active part of their digital strategy.

Proposed activities: Examples of engagement building activities include:

  • Mapping research and practice activity related to Digital Responsibility.

  • Showcasing and curating ‘state of the art’ examples of Digital Responsibility practice and thinking.

  • Identifying and working with thought leaders and key stakeholders across government, business and academia.

These events are part of the fellowship’s on-going dialogue with policy makers, representatives from business, and researchers to develop approaches and methods that can be used to further engagement on Digital Responsibility.

Research Fellows

Lizzie Coles-Kemp

RISCS Showcase 2021

Prof Lizzie Coles-Kemp introduced the Digital Responsibility Theme at the RISCS Showcase 2021.