BT’s Lydia Hopton On Upholding The Principles Of “Responsible Tech” In A Rapidly-Changing World

BT’s Lydia Hopton On Upholding The Principles Of “Responsible Tech” In A Rapidly-Changing World



With growing concern and scepticism around the misuse of technology, it’s vital for organisations to have the right safeguards in place to protect their people and the business overall.

It starts with the belief that the technology we use must earn our trust if it is to transform lives for the better. So, how might organisations go about achieving this?

At BT, we’ve identified three challenges concerning people around the use of technology:

  1. Data and cybersecurity. Our networks and the data that flows through them are central to our business, so protecting these assets is critical. BT currently blocks up to four million scam calls each week, and our global network of security centres protects the company from 200,000 cyber-attacks each month. We also employ some 3,000 cybersecurity professionals and have a 100-person strong team of ‘ethical hackers’ tasked with looking for weaknesses in our own security and systems;
  2. Geography. Managing risk in a changing geopolitical context is increasingly vital, as is the recognition that some geographies are at higher risk than others. For example, BT serves customers across 180 countries, with our supply chain spanning 100 countries. In this context, closely taking into account factors such as data sovereignty and geopolitical tensions is not a nice to have, it is integral to the decisions we make. Our approach is to harness a range of technologies when it comes to these challenges, including crisis gaming, where we simulate high-risk scenarios using AI and automation to detect threats and uncover potential risks;
  3. Those impacted by tech. This requires deep thinking about how user groups engage with technology. For example, at BT, we serve families across the UK, including children, a segment that can be vulnerable to adverse tech impacts when there is a lack or absence of parental supervision or safety control measures. We have carried out a group-wide assessment to understand our impact on children’s digital rights and safety, engaging with children, parents and experts in children’s needs. We worked with partners and platforms to make technology use safer for children, implementing a free online service that gives children the tools and confidence to use phone technology safely and responsibly. To date, there have been more than 4,000 sign-ups to the programme and 24,000 modules completed, covering topics such as online hate, digital wellbeing, staying safe online and digital and media literacy.

Implementing Responsible Tech is an enabler that builds trust across the enterprise. It’s also good for business, transforming risk into a competitive advantage as more customers ask questions about an organisation’s security capabilities when making purchasing decisions. Because companies now compete not just on the cost and quality of their services but also on trust and integrity.

Lydia Hopton is the Senior Manager for Responsible Tech and Human Rights at BT.

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