TAPESTRY: Trust, Authentication and Privacy over a DeCentralised Social Registry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Vision Speech and Signal Proc CVSSP

Abstract

The aim of TAPESTRY is to investigate, develop and demonstrate transformational new technologies to enable people, businesses and digital services to connect safely online, exploiting the complex "tapestry" of multi-modal signals woven by their everyday digital interactions; their Digital Personhood. In this way we will de-risk the Digital Economy, delivering completely new ways of determining or engendering trust online, and enabling users and businesses to make better decisions about who they trust online.

Online fraud and scams cost the UK economy £670m each year; crimes often perpetrated through false identities. It is difficult to make good decisions about who to trust when the digital identities of people and services are presented through pseudonyms or addresses. How can we trust that the identity we are interacting with today wasn't created out of thin air yesterday to pull a scam? Or whether the service we are registering our personal data with is trustworthy? In an era of users curating multiple digital identities that evolve over their physical lifespan, and the coming ability to migrate identities between providers (most of whom reside outside the EU), there is an urgent need for decentralised technologies to enable proofs of trust between people and services wishing to interact safely within the Digital Economy.

TAPESTRY will co-create and evaluate prototype services with end-users to determine how online behaviour and attitudes to trust could evolve in the presence of a trusted decentralised technology to prove the veracity of online identities. TAPESTRY proposes to collect, on an opt-in basis, digital trails of users' interactions (photos shared, comments left, posts 'liked', IoT devices interacted with) as encrypted trust evidence within a decentralised database (blockchain). Users grant third parties access to trust evidence for a given time period and at a given granularity, in order to prove trustworthiness of their identity via their digita personhood. For example, a crowd-funder might invite new backers to submit 2 years' history of regular social media interactions to guard against fraudulent pledging from transient identities. Community forums are becoming increasingly important for emotional support and well-being. A similar check could safeguard against trolling, or an identity posting advice could collect positive ratings within their blockchain, enabling vetting of their reputation. Deviations from behavioural norms could also be detectable within TAPESTRY to alert users to their digital identity being hacked.

From a technological standpoint, the project will develop the decentralised infrastructure necessary to make sense of the vast number of digital interactions using multimodal signals aggregated via machine learning from social media and IoT interactions. Additionally, new cryptographic strategies will be needed to secure the privacy of trust evidence and to disseminate access on a granular basis. From a HCI and co-design perspective, the development of trust services and the shift to use of the digital personhood and interaction history as trust evidence will break new ground, fundamentally altering the way users think about identity and interaction online.

To undertake this adventurous and ambitious project we have formed a strategic multi-disciplinary partnership uniting world-leading groups in multi-modal signal processing and machine learning (CVSSP), a BIS/GCHQ recognised centre of excellence for Cyber Security (SCCS), the UK's first and only 5G test-bed for next-gen mobile and IoT (ICS/5GIC), and reflecting the importance of co-designing and evaluating technology in tight integration with end-users, two leading UK groups for socio-digital interaction (DJCAD) and interaction design (UNN).

End-user partners participating in the co-design and evaluation of TAPESTRY span the technology, legal, social reform, health and well-being and commercial sectors.

Planned Impact

TAPESTRY develops transformational new technology enabling customers, businesses and digital services to establish mutual trust and interact with confidence over the Internet. These technologies will deliver long-term horizontal impact across all sectors within the Digital Economy, benefiting all end-users who require an intuitive and flexible platform to determine trustworthiness of a third party online, e.g. eCommerce, healthcare, government services, education, and in social interactions. TAPESTRY's de-centralised solutions to storage and verification of trust evidence offer a route towards an intelligent information infrastructure in which history of digital interactions will be leveraged to determine trust via the longevity, reputation and behavioural profile of digital identities. This will contribute to the infrastructure of existing and emerging digital economies by reducing risk of identity related fraud and preserving privacy.

TAPESTRY ensures relevance and impact of services through continuous engagement with end-users via four iterations of a participatory design process - spanning co-creation of services to deployment and evaluation. Each iteration focuses upon a case study reflecting the diversity of our end-user group, covering eCommerce, health and well-being, interpersonal relationship, and security scenarios. These are explored through involvement of the TAPESTRY Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) as partners and/or participants in trials and stakeholder workshops. The TAPESTRY SAB represents a broad spectrum of professional stakeholders for online trust; spanning legal (Charles Russell Speechlys), eCommerce (Surrey Chambers of Commerce and Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership), technology (Microsoft), and charitable organisations (Co-operation Ireland). These engagements also provide a route for, and expedites, commercial exploitation.

We will deliver vertical impact to specific sectors, through our end-user partners who will input to the co-creation of TAPESTRY service prototypes and trials. We will connect with SMEs via two major local enterprise partnerships, who will recruit businesses willing to trial our prototypes. We will connect with larger enterprises via Microsoft UK (with interests in privacy). Beyond business and finance we will connect with the Social Dimensions of Health Institute (SDHI) to ensure impact of our technology to societal well-being, impacting Digital Civics. TAPESTRY will vet digital identities to prevent 'trolling' in community forums offering support on emotional and healthcare issues. We will address reputational vetting of users within forums and personal dating sites (via relationships Moncur holds in ongoing work regarding digital break-ups). Through collaboration with Surrey's £70M 5G Innovation Centre (the UK's first and only 5G testbed) TAPESTRY will impact 5G development via work on behavioural profiling using IoT. Such profiling is essential in context-aware network management, within the emerging 5G standard, impacting next generation mobile infrastructure.

We are also committed to public engagement which will see outcomes packaged into consumable video-based (film) deliverables as part of a schools outreach programme engaging pre-university students in eSafety and future-scoping activities, further informing research objectives.

Academic impact will be delivered through targeting top-tier internationally-focused HCI venues such as ACM CHI, Ubicomp, CSCW, TOCHI. Outcomes in the multi-modal signal processing and secure systems space will be targeted at Tier-1 venues (PAMI, ICCV, IJCAI, ACM TISSEC, TDSC). Of potentially high impact is the capacity to bring to an HCI academic community results from a user-centred design project, which interleaves with deep investment and innovation in entirely novel ICT infrastructure for trust services. This represents 'working together' in a way that is relatively rare in HCI research.
 
Description The goal of TAPESTRY is to make the internet a safer place through new methods and technologies that help people make better decisions about who they should trust online. The first year of TAPESTRY has studied user-business interactions within the context of crowd-funding. The research outcomes to date include new social science work exploring user attitudes and behaviours around trust both on and offline. These outcomes have been derived through multiple end-user studies and manifested in refereed international publications and talks. These insights have helped inform the design of a prototype of the TAPESTRY platform. Specifically, novel design work has been produced exploring ways to communicate to non-experts an impression of the provenance an online identity holds, through a graphical visualization. Novel technical advances has been made in the form of machine learning algorithms that can derive this provenance information from longitudinal social media data streams e.g. facebook and Twitter, and so automatically generate these visualizations. The technology has been trialed at end-user workshops to evaluate its efficacy in helping people decide whether they should trust an individual online or not. Furthermore we have explored how the same machine learning technology could be harnessed to identify whether one's social media accounts have been hacked and so exhibiting anomalous behaviour. Findings have been disseminated through multiple papers and talks including several to the public sector, government and security services.
Exploitation Route The technology produced could be incorporated into websites to help make them safer. The technology could be used to safeguard digital identity online and help people make better decisions about who to trust online. The implications of enhancing security of identity in this way are broad ranging and would benefit any individual, business or digital service within the UK digital economy that is dependent on trusted identity.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://www.tapestry.ac.uk
 
Description TAPESTRY has delivered several academic publications in social science, design and technical forums (machine learning, cyber-security and DLT). Insights into trust online and accounts of the technology built have been presented to several government departments e.g. at the DLT CoI event hosted at the Treasury, to security stakeholders including NCSC (presented at hosted event on DLT) and to other government departments including BEIS, HMRC, DWP and to the Lord Holmes Roundtable on DLT for the Public Good (one of only 2 Universities giving evidence to that review) and resulting in follow-up correspondence complimenting the project from Margot James MP (DCMS). The increasing level of government and public sector interactions will potentially impact future policy and are building opportunity for later exploitation of research outcomes.
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice
 
Description Lord Holmes Roundtable on Distributed Ledger Technology for the Public Good
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Led to co-founding of several working groups with attendees of the roundtable e.g. with HMRC and DWP around use of Distributed Ledger Technology in government.
 
Description Blockstart: Blockchain-based applications for SME competitiveness (BSTART)
Amount € 4,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID NWE 870 
Organisation INTERREG IIIC North 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 04/2019 
End 01/2022
 
Description CREST
Amount £125,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats 
Organisation Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2018
 
Description EPSRC (TIPS2)
Amount £191,410 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R033870/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2021
 
Description A poster presentation at NCSC/GCHQ Annual ACE Conference in 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A poster highlighting the objectives of the TAPESTRY project was created and presented to the audience during the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Decepticon 2017: Understanding how trust is manipulated in online crowdfunding platforms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Jones attended Deception 2017 in California USA and gave a presentation "Understanding how trust is manipulated in online crowdfunding platforms
". This was based on a peer-reviewed paper submitted to the conference. Industry contacts generated from the presentation.

Decepticon 2017 was held from August 21st to 23rd in Paul Brest Hall, Stanford University. The conference brings together researchers and practitioners in the detection and prevention of deception.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://sml.stanford.edu/news/2017/decepticon-2017-truth-trust-and-tech/
 
Description Designed and ran a design workshop for researchers and practitioners at IndiaHCI 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop led by Northumbria postdoc at India HCI titled "Unboxing Black Box Technologies" with 20+ HCI researchers and practitioners examining potential new methods for understanding and collaborating on blockchain and AI technologies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://indiahci.org/2018/workshops-accepted.php
 
Description Distributed Ledger Technologies - SCCS industry engagement and networking event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This event was organised by the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security on January 24th, 2019 with a high-level overview given by Dr Mark Manulis. The event focused on distributed ledger technologies and their applications. It featured four invited talks, including the talk on research ativites at the University of Surrey in the area of DLTs and Blockchain. The TAPESTRY project was introduced as part of this talk by Prof. John Collomosse.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/blockchain-and-distributed-ledger-technology-industry-networking-even...
 
Description Dundee Presentation at International Seminar on Policing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation given to an invited audience at the International Seminar on Policing in Scotland. Audience members came from law enforcement agencies and universities in Europe and Scandinavia. The presentation was entitled "TAPESTRY: Trust, Authentication, and Privacy Online", and was delivered by Dr Helen Jones. .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Featured blog post on TAPESTRY on Personal Data Trust Network (EPSRC PDTN) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited blog post highlighting TAPESTRY's aims and high level goals following grant announcement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://pdtn.org/tapestry-project-engendering-trust-cyberspace/
 
Description INVITED TALK, CREST 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description International seminar on policing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Seminar detailing research being undertaken
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Microsoft Research India (talk and workshop) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Northumbria TAPESTRY research fellow was invited to visit Microsoft Research (MSR) India in Bangalore to present a talk (12 Dec to 20+ attendees), meet individual researchers (13 Dec) and then run a 2-hour workshop (14th Dec) demonstrating Northumbria's use of participative Design approaches in better understanding design implications around supporting online safety, privacy and security. The workshop involved 5 MSR research staff and interns and was informed by early TAPESTRY design research exploring aspects of 'designing in' for trust and security, soliciting cultural insights into the interpretation of data visualisations and brands, beyond the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Participation on DLT/Identity for Gig Economy Workshop at DWP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited participant at DWP hosted government-industry-academic workshop on DLT for self-soverigen identity in the context of the Gig Economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Present TAPESTRY review to HMRC workshop on DLT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Attended HMRC workshop on DLT convened by Nick Davies out of the Lord Holmes DLT Roundtable. John Collomosse presented TAPESTRY outcomes to HMRC in the context of self-sovereign identity schemes for digital tax. Several working groups formed one of which TAPESTRY is making ongoing contributions to (VAT related)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presented mid-term review of TAPESTRY outcomes at National Cyber Security Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presented a mid-term review of TAPESTRY activities and outcomes at the NCCS at a EPSRC DE hosted event with several government representatives (e.g. security services, HMRC, DCMS) present.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk to NCSC/GCHQ on TAPESTRY initial findings and future plans 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Delivered talk on TAPESTRY to representatives from several facets of the police and security services following project being highlighted at GCHQ-ACE quarterly review of the Surrey Centre for Cybersecurity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to UK Government DLT CoI at HM Treasury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The PI was invited to deliver a 45 minute keynote talk on TAPESTRY achievements during the project's first 12 months. The talk was delivered at HM Treasury to an audience of ~100 civil servants including representation from Cabinet Office, DFID, Home Office, NCSC, third sector workers and funding council representatives and to several startups related to distributed ledger technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017