I’m the founder of WebRoots Democracy and I work at The Royal Society (the UK’s national academy for science) as a Senior Policy Adviser, focusing on data and digital technologies.
I’m interested in progressive and inclusive technology policy and have spent a lot of time thinking, researching, and writing about issues such as online voting, deepfakes, digital health, and facial recognition surveillance.
My career history includes working in the Civil Service (Foreign Office and DCMS), in financial services (at KPMG in Canary Wharf), and in politics (at London City Hall and the UK Parliament). I’ve also worked as Head of Think Tank at Future Advocacy and as the Director of WebRoots Democracy.
Unmasking Facial Recognition
I’m the author of Unmasking Facial Recognition: An exploration of the racial bias implications of facial recognition surveillance in the United Kingdom. Through a series of workshops, interviews, roundtables, and desk-based analysis, the report looks beyond the question of accuracy and situates the technology within the broader context of racialised surveillance. It is concentrated on the implications of the technology for people of colour and Muslims – two heavily surveilled groups in society. The report revealed that London’s Metropolitan Police failed to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment prior to trialling the technology at events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and argues for a ‘generational ban’.
The Cratos Principles
I’m the author of The Cratos Principles: An essential guide to assessing online voting platforms for use in elections. It is the final report of WebRoots Democracy’s ‘Cratos Project’ which ran between 2018 and 2020. Through a series of events, roundtables, and expert interviews, the project set out to design a framework to assess the suitability of remote online voting systems for use in elections. The result of the project is the Cratos Principles, a set of 33 key principles which cover key aspects of accessibility, security, and user experience. In addition, the report includes a review of existing literature, detailed discussion on the challenges and opportunities, and a ratings system weighting the principles by importance.
I led a high-profile project on ‘deepfakes’ during the 2019 UK General Election at Future Advocacy. The project involved producing two deepfake campaign videos of Conservative Party leader, Boris Johnson, and then-leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, endorsing each other for Prime Minister. The videos also contained warnings for viewers on the threats posed by deepfake video technology and unregulated social media platforms. The project went viral and led coverage on the BBC News Channel when it launched. The videos received global media attention and reached an estimated 3 million people across the world. A behind-the-scenes film about the project can be viewed on the BBC website here.
I’m a co-author of Kinder, Gentler Politics: Tackling online abuse in political debate. The report explored the rise of online abuse in political debate, setting out a number of recommendations for how the state and social media platforms can act to combat the issue. The report builds upon a range of existing research and includes analysis of more than 53,000 tweets directed at political influencers in the UK as well as various popular UK political Facebook groups. The research particularly focuses on the impact that online abuse has on the expression of political opinions online.