Connect are proud to announce that our brilliant Cyberpsychologist Professor Mary Aiken will be conferred with the Honorary Freedom of The City of Dublin. This is an exceptional honour, with only 82 recipients to date.

The Freedom of the City of Dublin is awarded by Dublin City Council after approving a person nominated by the Lord Mayor. Eighty-two people have been honoured under the current process introduced in 1876. Most honourees have made a contribution to the life of the city or of Ireland in general, including politicians, public servants, humanitarians, artists and entertainers; others were distinguished members of the Irish diaspora and foreign leaders, honoured visiting Dublin. Honourees sign the roll of freedmen in a ceremony at City Hall or the Mansion House and are presented with an illuminated scroll by the Lord Mayor. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Barrack and Michelle Obama.

Professor Mary Aiken is one of the world’s leading experts in cyberpsychology – the study of the impact of technology on human behaviour. Professor Aiken is dedicated to the creation of a safer and more secure online environment for the people of Dublin, the people of Ireland, and worldwide. She has advised at Irish, European and International levels in policy debates at the intersection of psychology, criminology and technology. In particular, she has contributed to Irish legislation in the area of online safety and digital protection of children.

Her 2016 book, The Cyber Effect, gives a powerful insight into how human behaviour changes online. Amongst other institutions she has worked with INTERPOL and the White House. In an age where we are constantly under threat from cyber-attacks and where our most digitally vulnerable citizens are preyed upon, Mary’s knowledge and skills are highly significant and valuable.

She is a Member of the INTERPOL Global Cybercrime Expert Group, an Academic Advisor to Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and a member of the EC3 Academic Advisory Board. Professor Aiken is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine, Global Fellow at the Wilson Center (leading US think tank), a member of the Medico-Legal Society of Ireland, an International Affiliate Member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals.

Her research interests include; AI, Fintech, SafetyTech, human factors in cybersecurity, organized cybercrime, online behavioural profiling, Internet psychology, personal cyber security and safety, online harms and child protection online.

Professor Aiken is recognised as an international expert in policy debates at the intersection of technology and human behaviour. She co-led a White House research team focused on tackling ‘Technology Facilitated Human Trafficking’ and was appointed by the Department of Communications to the Internet Content Governance Advisory Group.

More recently Mary has been at the cutting edge of a new sector called “SafetyTech” which describes the emerging online safety technologies sector.

What’s the difference between cybersecurity and cyber safety?

It’s binary; cybersecurity protects data, networks and systems;  cyber safety or “SafetyTech’ protects people. Professor Aiken recently addressed the United Nations Internet Governance Forum 2020, which for the first time had a dedicated ‘SafetyTech’ event, hosted by the UK Government.