ITP Alum Diana Freed's Research in WIRED and WebMD

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2020

A computer generated image, extreme close up of a human eye that looks mechanical and like a cyborg

ITP alum Diana Freed is a PhD candidate at Cornell Tech whose research brings her into direct contact with survivors of domestic abuse who faced challenges unique to our era pervasive tracking and surveillance technologies in our personal devices. From the article on WebMD:

"At [Cornell's Clinic to End Tech Abuse (CETA)], trained technologists help survivors of domestic violence assess their digital security and scan their devices for spyware. 'People are concerned about GPS trackers in cars, cameras in the house, and devices,' says Diana Freed, a PhD candidate at Cornell Tech who volunteers at the clinic as part of her research. 'You just realize the magnitude of someone’s situation based upon all of the different types of devices that we use today and have in homes.'

In one preliminary study with 44 domestic violence survivors, Freed and her colleagues found that roughly half were at risk of compromised accounts, potential spyware, and misuse of cellphone family sharing plans to monitor victims."

In addition to researching ways in which abusers use tech to continue harassing and controling their partners, Freed and her colleagues are working on ways that survivors can use these same technologies to protect themselves:

"CETA and Cornell Tech have come up with an approach called 'clinical computer security' to help domestic violence victims because such expertise is lacking.

Trained technologists such as Freed listen to clients' concerns, then look at passwords, logins, ownership of devices, and family plans. 'We look at all these different things, and very often, it surfaces how the person is getting the information,' Freed says. CETA also uses its own custom tools to find risks. 'We’re able to scan the devices and determine if there was any kind of spyware,' Freed says. The technologists even examine children’s devices. 'We look at everything.'"