From providing in-depth analysis about cyber security, to reaching out to tech professionals in Ukraine, to the merits of robots performing surgery, BCS members have been making impact providing comment and context to media and policy makers about the ever-evolving world of tech.
The BCS community is offering practical help by opening its networks, expertise, and facilities to all technologists from Ukraine at this time.
We also want to go further. Membership of our community and the support that comes with it will be open any IT professional displaced or affected by international conflict in future.
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the BCS policy team gathered together four top cybersecurity experts for its new monthly Policy Jam webinar. IT Pro reported on the event under the headline Stifling Russian disinformation through hacktivism 'having the opposite effect'. On the topic of Anonymous’ hijacking of Russian broadcasts to show footage taken from the war in Ukraine, Jen Ellis, VP of community and public affairs at Rapid7, said ‘I would theorise that it actually has the potential to do harm’.
The article also quoted BCS member Dan Card, cyber security consultant at PwnDefend. ‘Do I think people are making an impact in a positive and negative way? Yes, both, because the fact that we don't know isn't a reason to not act... but I think that people should speak up and people should act appropriately.
‘Because failure to do anything and failure to speak out against corruption, against crime, against essentially evil in the world, is how we get to this scenario we’re in.’
Another tech magazine, Toolbox, included quotes from Jen as part of a longer feature on hacktivism. The cyber security experts panel also included Patrick Burgess, a member of the BCS Information Security Specialist Group, and Lisa Forte from Red Goat Cyber Security. A second session with the same panel looked at why the anticipated global cyber-attacks haven’t taken place as a result of the Ukraine/Russian war.
Read our other policy jam related articles:
In March this year, Mayank Prakash FBCS became the new BCS President, with a call for governments and businesses to use technology as a force for good.
As BCS’ first President from an Indian ethnic background, Mayank is a keen proponent of exploring the potential offered by technology and making the IT profession inclusive. He was previously recognised as the UK’s most influential IT professional by Computer Weekly and CIO of the year at the UK IT Industry awards.
The Mail Online quoted Steve Sands, Chair - Information Security specialist group at BCS after the high street store, The Works had to close over 500 of its shops because of a cyber-attack.
Steve said: ‘It’s fairly likely that the attack on The Works wasn’t targeted directly against them. Targeted attacks tend to be limited to organisations which either have very deep pockets or provide a critical service. It’s more likely that this was opportunist, perhaps as a result of a user clicking a link or opening an attachment that contained a piece of malware.’
Staying with cyber, BCS worked with members to respond to a government consultation, Embedding standards and pathways across the cyber profession by 2025. We recommended professional registration and, where possible, approved chartered designation of cyber security practitioners and other IT professionals in responsible roles.
BCS members expressed their strong views over protecting the ability to send encrypted messages on various platforms. A BCS survey found 78 percent of our members said restricting E2EE would not protect users and 66 percent said it would have a negative impact on society. This was widely reported, including in The Register, IT Pro, and local press across the country.
There was good news here with record numbers applying for computer science degrees – up by 13 per cent this year, the highest increase of any UK university subject. That's according to BCS analysis of figures from the admissions service, UCAS. It covered in National Technology News and Computer Weekly.
But the BCS Landscape Review: Computing Qualifications in the UK Report showed boys out number girls by six to one in many areas of computing education. However, girls who study the subject tend to outperform boys. This story featured in The Register, PC Gamer, Education Today, Evening Standard, and the tech press such as TECHregister.
On International Women's Day, a senior BCS member, Nicola Martin, head of quality at Adarga and software testing expert, was one of six women featured in a National Technology News article on leading women in tech.
Nicola was listed in Computer Weekly's 2021 Women in Tech Rising Stars Top 10. She said: ‘I have seen a lot of changes, some for the better, but there is a lot of work still to be done.’
On International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), BCS called for an end transphobic discrimination in the technology sector and to make the community safe and welcoming for all LGBTQIA+ people, regardless of their gender identity and expression on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). BCS Pride Specialist Group chair, Kavita Kapoor, was quoted in Computer Weekly. In response to figures showing a 789% increase in reported hate crimes against trans people over the last decade in the UK Kavita said: ‘Our questions at BCS Pride are: what does this mean for the technology community? How do we ensure the technology we build is not used for harassment? How do we ensure that the startups we create, and our companies are truly inclusive spaces to work?
‘Visibility is fundamental to all our identities, security and ability to thrive in society. We want the hate and harassment to stop.’
FE News also picked up on the BCS call and quoted Kelly Metcalf, head of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing at Fujitsu as welcoming the move.
The future of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace was tackled by Sarah Burnett, a lead member of BCS Women and a renowned technology industry analyst. In a BCS published book, The Autonomous Enterprise, she predicted machines would increasingly do the bulk of routine transactional office-based work. She said businesses needed to embrace AI to keep ahead of the competition. Sarah was interviewed in Tech Monitor.
In January, BCS’s Director of Policy - Dr Bill Mitchell OBE was quoted widely on the Online Harms Bill, including in the I paper and Evening Standard. He said: ‘If I were the mum of a young daughter whose social life is mainly online, it wouldn't be clear to me if this bill does do enough to keep her safe.’
He added he wanted to see assurances in the Bill around the rigour of the platforms' risk assessments, plus open and transparent auditing and reporting of the success of any harm mitigations by the platforms.
In March, the Bill returned to parliament. Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries raised concerns about the ‘power of unchecked algorithms’ that could harm ‘countless generations of children’. Dr Mitchell said what was needed were algorithms designed to be ethical and to work correctly right out of the box.
Professor Andy Phippen, BCS Fellow and a specialist in Ethics and Digital Rights at Bournemouth University, said young people wanted better internet safety education and more digital literacy. Dr Mitchell was quoted in National Technology News and Professor Phippen in Computer Weekly.
The Daily Mail posed the question: ‘Would you trust a robot to perform surgery?’ Dr Philip Scott, chair of the BCS Health and Care BCS Specialist Group, told the paper the outcomes of robotic surgery were 'very impressive'.
He added: ‘It is a matter of persuading people that robots can do the job as well as humans.''
BCS’ Fellows Technical Advisory Group (F-TAG) continued to offer original insight on emerging technologies and matters of professional practise for the benefits of our members.
Thought leadership ranging from explaining a software bill or materials to the need for legislators to improve their IT knowledge can be found in MyBCS.