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From Cyber Stalking to Spyware: what do we know about stalkerware in intimate partner violence situations?

jay3 July 2020

By MPA candidates Jay Neuner, Maddalena Esposito and Thomas Bermudez 

Smartphones and other devices are the lifelines of the modern world. Navigation, information, connection – these critical resources are right at our fingertips.

But for some, the very devices used to enrich their lives are now being used to endanger them. Through “stalkerware” – apps that, once downloaded onto a device, can geo-locate, log keystrokes, access other apps, and much more – others can monitor and even manipulate the device user’s activity. Some of these apps are nearly undetectable. Worryingly, reports from news media, advocacy groups, academia, and others are finding that many perpetrators of these malicious acts are none other than a spouse or other intimate partner, as one of many means of perpetrating intimate partner violence (IPV).

Chayn logo

Chayn logo

These apps represent a disturbing evolution in the phenomena of cyber-stalking, online harassment, and other technology-facilitated abuse. While those fields are increasingly well-documented (though still limited by the relative nascency of the digital realm), stalkerware’s use in IPV is an emerging field requiring much more research.

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UCL MPA Candidates present at BSI Standards e-Conference

Siobhan Pipa15 May 2020

Written by the MPA students Natalia Maj, Malla Tedroff, Jiehui Song, Jan Sassenberg and Gabriella Ezeani

Medical devices, artificial intelligence, robotics, software, Covid-19, the future of healthtech and… Zoom. On the 23rd of April, we presented our MPA research project on standardization and regulatory challenges of connected and intelligent medical devices at the first ever online BSI Conference, which attracted hundreds of participants from diverse industries and backgrounds. You can listen to the presentation here.

BSI team photoAs part of the MPA at STEaPP, students work in groups together with a client on a real-world problem for their final master’s project. This year, we, a group of students comprising Natalia Maj, Malla Tedroff, Jiehui Song, Jan Sassenberg and Gabriella Ezeani, are collaborating with the British Standards Institution (BSI), the UK’s national standards body, on challenges related to the rise of intelligent and connected medical devices. Medical devices are becoming increasingly connected and technologically advanced, incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence. These innovations disrupt the established regulatory frameworks, creating new regulatory and standardization challenges, especially relating to the protection of patient safety and device security. New, or complementary, standards are needed to address the regulatory gaps, and this is a very fascinating and challenging topic to research due to the complexity of software and connected devices.

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