Mission 3

Balance individual agency vs. social good

REPHRAIN will develop a rigorous understanding of what privacy represents for different groups in society (including those hard to reach), the different online harms to which they may be exposed, the cultural and societal nuances impacting effectiveness of harm-reduction approaches and contexts in which harm reduction in one group may open up potential harms for another. This will lead to novel socio-technical (including legal/regulatory/investigatory) solutions that not only empower individuals to protect their privacy but also work in tandem with a culture of shared responsibility for online safety.

Mission 3 co-leads: Mark Coté, Emiliano De Cristofaro


  • Understanding online harms at a micro (individual) and macro (community/society) level

Online harms may differentially impact diverse societal groups, including both the range and extent of potential impacts. REPHRAIN will develop an empirical understanding of individuals/groups most vulnerable to particular online harms, the extent and circumstances driving this vulnerability, and the likely challenges faced in any targeted or generic interventions and mitigations.

  • Supporting citizens in understanding / managing the value / threats / opportunities of their data

It is difficult, nigh impossible, for citizens to make sense of what data is held/shared about them across platforms and its potential for exploitation. REPHRAIN will develop new approaches to improve user agency to remain safe online, e.g., privacy & harm awareness programmes, privacy awareness & management tools, and PETs for specific contexts (e.g., to give effect to key GDPR provisions).

  • Technologies & interventions to disrupt mal-actors

REPHRAIN will develop dedicated threat models and best practice guidelines for industry actors and other stakeholders to anticipate harms and adverse outcomes when designing digital systems. This will be complemented by new approaches to remove ‘front-line’ criminals from online services and platforms and identifying & disrupting the supply chains enabling criminal enterprise (e.g., financial processing, criminal infrastructure).