Funding from the SPF Protecting Citizens Online (PCO) programme to support research projects that address the needs of citizens online, help them control how their data is used and protect them from online harms.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in collaboration with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is administering this opportunity to support research projects that address the needs of citizens online, help them control how their data is used and protect them from online harms.

This is the second of two phases that make up the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Protecting Citizens Online (PCO) programme. It aims to fund a portfolio of projects that complement and align with (but not replicate) the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN), funded through phase one.

This call specifically seeks to fund research into the diverse and changing realities of citizens’ needs online, and empower them to understand and control how their data is used. This will create user-focused tools to mitigate online harms whilst enabling data sharing to maximise societal benefit in the digital economy.

Projects are expected to address at least one of the following three research themes:

  • Understanding citizens’ needs and empowering them in ever-changing threat contexts, where those aiming to exploit users’ data (such as for profiling for targeted advertising, unauthorised disclosure, identity theft, misinformation) regularly adapt their approaches as privacy and harm reduction measures are put in place
  • Navigating information asymmetries between state, companies and citizens, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions about their data transactions and online behaviour
  • Understanding the balance between the use of data-centric applications for the common good and protecting citizens’ interests in the digital age

Projects should be interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature. Projects are expected to ring-fence funding and staff time engage with REPHRAIN during its lifetime, including attending all-hands meetings and undertaking joint work to incorporate project outcomes into the REPHRAIN Map and the REPHRAIN Toolbox in order to achieve the wider aims of the PCO programme.

Projects should also engage with REPHRAIN events, such as knowledge exchange workshops, showcases and masterclasses. REPHRAIN is expected to run until October 2023, so engagement is expected to be primarily within the first two years of the funded projects. However, projects will also be expected to engage with the cohort of other projects funded through this call, and the wider PCO community. Engagement must be clearly resourced and fully justified.

Projects must last for three years starting on 1 April 2022 and ending on 31 March 2025.

Status Open
Funding body UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Maximum value £2,750,000
Reference ID S22044
Category Science and Technology, Economic and Social Research
Fund or call Call

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