Mission 1

Deliver privacy at scale while mitigating its misuse to inflict harms

REPHRAIN will reconcile the tension between data privacy and lawful expectations of transparency by drawing heavily on advances in privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) but also leveraging the full range of socio-technical instruments to rethink how to best address the trade-offs. These include citizens’ evolving views, attitudes, and behaviours towards information disclosure online; a rapidly evolving technological, legal, and regulatory landscape; and potential misuse of privacy technologies to inflict harms.

Mission 1 co-leads: Adam Joinson, Tariq Elahi


  • New socio-technical capacities via PETs and beyond

PETs are not a panacea for addressing online harms, especially given their potential abuse to inflict harms. REPHRAIN will develop a broader set of socio-technical capabilities – combining advances in PETs with new privacy awareness tools/approaches and legitimate policy/law enforcement actions to disrupt mal-actors – that address existing harms, their potential evolution and new/emergent harms from future digital innovations.

  • Addressing fragmentation of online harm reduction approaches

Common building blocks to underpin multiple use-cases are lacking, e.g., techniques to analyse linguistic indicators of harm for use across cyberbullying, grooming, fraud; privacy-preserving information storage or telemetry for use in a range of social media platforms. REPHRAIN will develop such new shared resources to deliver a step change in development and adoption of online harm reduction mechanisms.

  • Mitigating the abuse of PETs

PETs are often used in sensitive environments by at-risk individuals (and hence a target of attacks). They may also be misused by criminals to hide their activities while inflicting online harms. REPHRAIN will develop new privacy-preserving monitoring and analysis approaches that not only account for vectors of attack and misuse at a technical level but also incorporate investigative, legal and regulatory dimensions to mitigate abuse.