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My Science Inquiry: University of Bristol researcher pitches ideas on product security to MPs

'The proportion of UK households with smart devices specific to home environments has been predicted to rise from 8.4% in 2017 to 26.8% in 2022. This has the potential for substantial societal benefits in areas such as healthcare, maintaining the independence of older adults and energy use. However, it also brings substantial potential risks. Previous research has shown that many devices can be easily exploited by others, leading to threats to information security, privacy and personal safety. ‘ Dr Emma Williams, University of Bristol, My Science Inquiry, Feb 2019

5 March 2019

Dr Emma Williams, School of Psychological Science, was chosen to pitch her idea for a parliamentary inquiry to the Science and Technology Committee in Westminster last month (February). Her idea, Ensuring Secure Digital Innovation, was chosen from over 80 entries nationally to the My Science Inquiry initiative, with a view to ideas informing current and new policy.

Dr Williams, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in Digital Innovation and Well-being, proposed an inquiry into ‘Ensuring Secure Digital Innovation’:

“An evidence-based consideration is required of whether the UK Government should develop regulation to enforce product security for IoT-based [Internet of Things] technology, and if so, how this regulation could best serve the needs of both consumers and product innovators to support the digital economy going forward.”

The Committee chose Dr Williams as one of 10 researchers, scientists and campaigners to pitch their idea in person and persuade MPs to investigate the issue further.

Although the Committee did not choose the idea as one of the next inquiries in 2019, they decided to retain it as a priority on their list of possible future inquiries.

MPs also asked Dr Williams to contribute to the Committee’s letter to the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, asking the Government to address the issues raised in the pitch.

You can watch Dr Williams at the Inquiry: My Science Inquiry Parliament TV

Further information

Dr Emma Williams holds a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Bristol in Digital Innovation and Well-being, and researches cybersecurity: how do we encourage users to engage in secure online behaviour? 

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