12 May 2022

Professor of Forensic Cyberpsychology at the Institute for Connected Communities (ICC)  Professor Mary Aiken is set to be awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin.

Professor Aiken is attached to the Institute for Connected Communities (ICC) at the University of East London, and is recognised as an international expert in policy debates at the intersection of technology and human behaviour.  

On Monday, Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland announced Professor Aiken would receive the honour for being dedicated to ensuring a "safer and more secure online environment".

Professor Aiken will receive the honour at a ceremony in June alongside Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Kellie Harrington and feminist campaigner Ailbhe Smyth.

Professor Aiken said, "I am so honoured to receive this award which highlights the importance of online security and safety. Just 83 people have been granted this award in the past 150 years, and only four have been women. I am also so happy to be among a trio of women receiving this rare accolade - we are all fighting for something."

The others women were British suffragist Margaret Sandhurst, entertainer Maureen Potter, former Crown Princess Michiko of Japan and Mother Teresa.

Professor Aiken is also professor and chair of the Department of Cyberpsychology at Capitol Technology University in Washington DC, and adjunct professor at the Geary Institute for Public Policy University College Dublin, Ireland.

She is an academic adviser to Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, member of the INTERPOL Global Cybercrime Expert Group, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Global Fellow at the Washington DC Wilson Center, member of the Medico-Legal Society of Ireland, International Affiliate Member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals.

Her research interests include online harms, safety tech, child protection online, internet psychology, AI, human factors in cybersecurity, juvenile cyber delinquency and criminality, organised cybercrime, online behavioural profiling, personal cybersecurity and safety.

Professor Aiken has been key in delivering the ICC's research for the UK Government's new Online Safety bill which is in the final stages of hearings and was read in the Queen's Speech on Tuesday 10 May. She is one of the acknowledged founders of the UK's online safety technology or "SafetyTech" sector.

The bill, which was introduced to Parliament last month, "aims to protect children from harmful content such as pornography and limit people’s exposure to illegal content".

Announcing the Freedom of Dublin honour, Lord Mayor Gilliland said, "I am honoured and privileged to propose these three women for Dublin city's highest award, the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin."

The award was previously made to British Prime Minister William Gladstone (in 1877), former US presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and South Africa's Nelson Mandela.

UEL's vice-chancellor and president, Professor Amanda Broderick, congratulated Professor Aiken. She said, "I am delighted that Professor Aiken has been honoured with the Freedom of Dublin for her services to internet safety. Professor Aiken will be one of only four women on the roll of honour since it started in 1876.

"This is a great honour and we thank Professor Aiken for her dedication to tackling cybercrime and child protection online."

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