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Dr Sara Helen Wilford

Job: Senior Lecturer/Senior Research Fellow

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)116 250 6294

E: sara@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk

 

Personal profile

Dr Sara Helen Wilford is a Senior Lecturer/Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, and has worked on numerous research projects including as Principal Investigator on the FP7 project GREAT ‘Governance frameworks for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Governance frameworks for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)]’. Dr Wilford has held several academic positions most notably, at Harvard University, and the University of Warwick, where she led on a number of projects including a Pilot evaluation of Patient and Public Involvement in Liverpool PCT's end of life care services. She has also been involved in research into the ethics of personal health monitoring (PHM Ethics); evaluation of the UK local government Beacon Council Scheme and knowledge sharing in the Citizens Advice Bureau. Her areas of interest are computer ethics, privacy, surveillance, public policy and e-government. Her background is multi-disciplinary with an extensive experience of qualitative methods. She has a degree in Public Administration and Management, and a PhD in Computing Ethics and Public Policy. She is currently book reviews editor for Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (JICES) and works as an expert/ethics advisor for the European Commission.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Publications and outputs 

  • PRECEPT: A Framework for Ethical Digital Forensics Investigations.
    PRECEPT: A Framework for Ethical Digital Forensics Investigations. Ferguson, Ian; Renaud, Karen; Irons, Alastair; Wilford, S. Cyber-enabled crimes are on the increase, and law enforcement has had to expand many of their detecting activities into the digital domain. As such, the field of digital forensics has become far more sophisticated over the years and is now able to uncover even more evidence that can be used to support prosecution of cyber criminals in a court of law. Governments, too, have embraced the ability to track suspicious individuals in the online world. Forensics investigators are driven to gather data exhaustively, being under pressure to provide law enforcement with sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Yet, there are concerns about the ethics and justice of untrammeled investigations on a number of levels. On an organizational level, unconstrained investigations could interfere with, and damage, the organization’s right to control the disclosure of their intellectual capital. On an individual level, those being investigated could easily have their legal privacy rights violated by forensics investigations. On a societal level, there might be a sense of injustice at the perceived inequality of current practice in this domain. This paper argues the need for a practical, ethically-grounded approach to digital forensic investigations, one that acknowledges and respects the privacy rights of individuals and the intellectual capital disclosure rights of organisations, as well as acknowledging the needs of law enforcement. We derive a set of ethical guidelines, then map these onto a forensics investigation framework. We subjected the framework to expert review in two stages, refining the framework after each stage. We conclude by proposing the refined ethically-grounded digital forensics investigation framework. Our treatise is primarily UK based, but the concepts presented here have international relevance and applicability. In this paper, the lens of justice theory is used to explore the tension that exists between the needs of digital forensic investigations into cybercrimes on the one hand, and, on the other, individuals’ rights to privacy and organizations’ rights to control intellectual capital disclosure. The investigation revealed a potential inequality between the practices of digital forensics investigators and the rights of other stakeholders. That being so, the need for a more ethically-informed approach to digital forensics investigations, as a remedy, is highlighted, and a framework proposed to provide this. Our proposed ethically-informed framework for guiding digital forensics investigations suggest a way of re-establishing the equality of the stakeholders in this arena, and ensuring that the potential for a sense of injustice is reduced. Justice theory is used to highlight the difficulties in squaring the circle between the rights and expectations of all stakeholders in the digital forensics arena. The outcome is the forensics investigation guideline, PRECEpt: Privacy-Respecting EthiCal framEwork, which provides the basis for a re-aligning of the balance between the requirements and expectations of digital forensic investigators on the one hand, and individual and organizational expectations and rights, on the other. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • First line steps in requirements identification for guidelines development in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)
    First line steps in requirements identification for guidelines development in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Wilford, S. Responsible research and innovation (RRI) considers the impact of research and development on those who are likely to be directly or indirectly impacted by those activities, and provides a direction for the future of research practices in science and technology for the greater good. In the practical world of the lab or research group therefore, guidelines to assist researchers and scientists in the application of those RRI principles are needed. However, this paper is not concerned with the creation of guidelines themselves, but presents an RRI approach to identifying the requirements for guidelines. This is a first step that is often overlooked or presented as a fait accompli and yet it provides an essential factor in the eventual success or failure of guidelines, created for any purpose. What is required in a set of guidelines however, is not only dictated by the preferred outcome, but is also reflected in the process of its creation. Therefore, an RRI approach to identifying those requirements should also practice what the resulting RRI guidelines preach. Whilst initially developed for the production of guidelines for researchers in an EU RRI project, these approaches and principles can be applied across all disciplines when a set of guidelines need to be developed. The approach taken here, utilized several steps in its implementation. Firstly, through a review of the literature and an examination of guideline development in several research projects, a set of indicative requirements were created. A workshop/focus group with researchers from a range of disciplines, career stages and institutions led to the production of the second iteration, which then received further input from both experts in the field of RRI, philosophy and ethics. This led to the creation of the table of requirements for guidelines. By utilizing the core principles of RRI and through a critical and reflexive approach, this work presents a new technique for identifying first line steps in the creation of guidelines. The practical and flexible nature of this approach means that researchers and policy-makers are invited to use this method in their own guideline development The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Guidelines for Responsible Research and Innovation
    Guidelines for Responsible Research and Innovation Wilford, S.; Fisk, Malcolm; Stahl, Bernd Carsten, 1968- Guidelines for Responsible Research and Innovation
  • Analysis of the relationship between Saudi Arabia parents' education and economic level parental control of internet usage
    Analysis of the relationship between Saudi Arabia parents' education and economic level parental control of internet usage Almogbel, A.; Begg, M.; Wilford, S. Abstract This paper examined the relationship between parents’ educational level in Saudi families and the level of their control of their children’s internet usage. It also broadly Identified the impact of Saudi families’ economic level on their control of internet use by their children. . This study also tried to describe and explain the problem and its impact on the family. By analysing these two social variables, the paper clarified the conflict between conservative Islamic way of bringing children up against their exposure to the wild posibilities of internet surfing. The technological revolution continues to be a bone of contention in an Arabic speaking country where social norms are governed by tight religious teachings. The paper used the descriptive method to interpret phenomena. Several methods were used to collect data; questionnaires for younger and older participants and interviews for parents only. The study sample consisted of parents from different social backgrounds and primary school children from different parts of Riyadh. The results of this study will help policy makers to understand parental education and economic levels and how these influence children’s surfing habits. This is a preliminary scientific study for children and the Internet in Saudi Arabia to discuss these variables in detail.
  • What is required of requirements? A first stage process towards developing guidelines for responsible research and innovation
    What is required of requirements? A first stage process towards developing guidelines for responsible research and innovation Wilford, S. Responsible research and innovation (RRI) considers the impact of development on stakeholders and provides a direction for the future of science and technology. Therefore, in the practical world of the lab, what is needed is a set of guidelines to assist in the application of those RRI principles. However, to ensure that any guidelines are usable and acceptable, it is important to engage with those who would actually be expected to implement them. Stakeholders are often asked to evaluate a set of guidelines or recommendations without having any say in how they are constructed, what they should look like or what they should contain. The process of stakeholder engagement in the development of a set of ‘requirements’ therefore provides insight from which a set of guidelines can be developed. In this way, acceptance is fostered through stakeholder involvment in the process, which has been built from the core principles of RRI.
  • Protecting of Children Online in Saudi Arabia.
    Protecting of Children Online in Saudi Arabia. Almogbel, A.; Begg, M.; Wilford, S. Modern society is inundated with an array of attractive technological gadgets, most of which are used by young children. This information and technology revolution poses challenges to humanity, especially young people. However, the advent of this revolution means that people’s lives have been made easier in many different ways. Many countries and organizations in the world are concerned about the risks coming from the Internet on children, such as sexual harassment and exposure to inappropriate content like violence and sexual activities. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in the Middle East that experiences this rapid revolution of the internet. With the increase in the number of Internet users in Saudi Arabia, especially children, and the use of social networking sites like Facebook as well as the ease of sharing photos and inappropriate content all this continues to increase the chances of children's exposure to risk is increasing.
  • Perceptions of ethics in IS: How age can affect awareness
    Perceptions of ethics in IS: How age can affect awareness Wilford, S.; Wakunuma, Kutoma Purpose – This aim of this paper was to highlight the awareness of ethical issues across the group of information systems (IS) professionals from a range of geographical regions. Design/methodology/approach – An initial survey was conducted that informed in-depth interviews with 26 IS professionals from across the globe. The study identified that around 70 per cent of the sample were over 50 years old. This provided an opportunity to consider age-related differences in perception regarding ethical awareness of both current and emerging technologies. Findings – The project revealed that the more mature IS professionals had a significantly higher level of awareness and perceived understanding regarding the importance of ethical issues than the younger IS professionals. Research limitations/implications – The research was limited to IS professionals and so the findings do not generalise further. Future research would be beneficial to find out if the higher level of ethical awareness is also evident across older people in general or whether it is specific to technology professionals. Practical implications – IS professionals need to be exposed to high standards and expectations of ethical behaviour from senior colleagues, as well as embedding this within technical education. Social implications – Caution with regards to youth culture and youthitisation of the workforce needs to be exerted to avoid rash decision-making and short-termism, which could undermine progress and development. A change in the view of employers to older workers will also require a change in attitudes across Western society, particularly as demographics continue to skew towards an aging population. Originality/value – This paper provides new insight into the ethical awareness of older employees and goes some way to dispel the myths surrounding stereotypes of older workers as being fearful of technology and resistant to change.
  • Responsible innovation across borders: tensions, paradoxes and possibilities
    Responsible innovation across borders: tensions, paradoxes and possibilities Macnaghten, P.; Owen, R.; Stilgoe, J.; Wynne, B.; Azevedo, A.; de Campos, A.; Chilvers, J.; Dagnino, R.; di Giulio, G.; Frow, E.; Garvey, B.; Groves, C.; Hartley, S.; Knobel, M.; Kobayashi, E.; Lehtonnen, M.; Lezaun, J.; Mello, L.; Monteiro, M.; Pamplona, J.; Rigolin, C.; Rondani, B.; Staykova, M.; Taddei, R.; Till, C.; Tyfield, D.; Wilford, S.; Velho, L. In March 2014 a group of early career researchers and academics from São Paulo state and from the UK met at the University of Campinas to participate in a workshop on ‘Responsible Innovation and the Governance of Socially Controversial Technologies’. In this Perspective we describe key reflections and observations from the workshop discussions, paying particular attention to the discourse of responsible innovation from a cross-cultural perspective. We describe a number of important tensions, paradoxes and opportunities that emerged over the three days of the workshop.
  • A Normative Theory of the Information Society
    A Normative Theory of the Information Society Wilford, S. This is a book review, no abstract.
  • Maturity, Ethics and The IS Professional: Does Age Matter When it Comes to Ethical Issue Awareness
    Maturity, Ethics and The IS Professional: Does Age Matter When it Comes to Ethical Issue Awareness Wilford, S.; Wakunuma, Kutoma

Click here to view a full listing of Sara Wilford's publications and outputs

Research interests/expertise

Computer ethics, privacy, data protection, surveillance, social media and public policy

Areas of teaching

Computer ethics and privacy and data protection modules at undergraduate and postgraduate. Supervision at MSc and PhD

Qualifications

  • PhD in Information Systems & Public Policy - March 2004 De Montfort University, Leicester
  • Public Administration & Management Studies - BA (Hons) Awarded the KPMG prize for best final year student. De Montfort University, Leicester.

Courses taught

  • Computer Ethics level 6 Core Module
  • Computer Ethics and Professional Practice level 6 Core Module (BCS Accreditation requirement)
  • Privacy & Data Protection level 6 Option Module (closed)
  • (MSc) Research, Ethics and Professionalism in Computing - Core Module
  • Computer Ethics Level 4 Core Module
  • DBA – Professional Doctorate Research Approaches module (external)

Membership of professional associations and societies

01/01/17 – 31/12/19 - European Academy of Technology and Innovation Assessment GmbH Elected as member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Current research students

Malgorzata Plotka - 1st Supervisor

ORCID number

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8562-870X

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