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Bridging the sociotechnical divide from a policy perspective: Knowledge sharing in cybersecurity & data management in digital technologies

Madeline Carr; Siraj Shaikh; Atif Hussain; Jeremy Watson; Irina Brass; Kruakae Pothong; Feja Lesniewska; Uchenna Ani; Alex Chung

Data for Policy 2019 


Session Title: Bridging the sociotechnical divide from a policy perspective: Knowledge sharing in cybersecurity and data management in digital technologies 


Session Abstract: 

There is growing recognition that technical solutions alone cannot effectively address public concerns in a digital society.  As the drive toward the adoption of networked technologies intensifies, the public and private spheres are now incorporating social issue considerations into policy and regulatory strategies.  On the one hand, given the private sector’s dominance over critical national infrastructures of developed countries and as the main digital service providers, collaboration with the public sector has never been more vital to sustaining national security and public wellbeing online. On the other hand, data has become an incredibly valuable asset in the race to revolutionise the digital landscape with a myriad of emerging technologies, and the way in which it is curated will only increase in importance. 


Yet, from a policy perspective, it remains unclear just how the public and private sectors’ quest to acquire vast amounts of information can be reconciled with the public interest of obtaining digital trust. Furthermore, current mechanisms for public-private knowledge sharing within policy processes aimed at enhancing cybersecurity are suboptimal. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the state of play with regards to the role of policy in the governance and operation of sociotechnical systems.  This will not least lead to best practice to be established in data management and cyber policy which, in turn, helps to build capacity and trust in digital societies at national and international levels. 


Against this backdrop, our talks aim to cross the sociotechnical divide to examine how public and private sectors can be better equipped for the 21st century.  Our panellists specialise in such disciplines as international law, digital technology and policy, computer science, criminology, and public policy, and our diverse interdisciplinary backgrounds are illustrated in the paper abstracts. 


Our panel will address four topics on digital society and cybersecurity in the context of policymaking. On a national level, we examine whether the coordination of knowledge sharing centrally in the UK can enhance cyber policymaking and capacity building; and investigate how policies that promote public, private, and academic collaborations on open source simulation can improve UK critical national infrastructure security.  On an international level, we scrutinise, from a human-centric perspective, whether the efficacy of GDPR can be increased in an IoT environment vis-à-vis the privacy, security, and protection of data; and explore how polycentric governance approaches, such as that used by the UN Paris Agreement on climate change, could drive better data management to help 'cope' with the new wicked problem IoT presents for cybersecurity. 


Our session will contribute to current scholarly debates relevant to the conference themes: Policy for Data & Management; Privacy, Security, Ethics & Law; Data, Government & Policy; Systems & Infrastructure; and Data Processing & Knowledge Generation.  The audience will gain fresh insights into some of the most pressing concerns the UK policy community and international community are facing in the digital and cyber realms. While we aim to offer perspectives from across multiple disciplines, we will also highlight the common thread of using a sociotechnical approach to researching and understanding policy issues.  The first-hand data and novel methodological approaches from our studies will stimulate discussions around useful ways in which research can engage with policy on a practical level. The actionable recommendations from our talks will be profitable to both research and policy communities. 

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