Victoria Baines

Visiting Fellow

Victoria Baines has spent the last 15 years analysing and investigating cybercrime and online safety issues.

Until 2017, Victoria was Facebook’s Trust & Safety Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Her work focused on operational support to law enforcement, and strategic engagement with policy makers on criminal activity online. Before joining Facebook, Victoria led the Strategy team at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), where she was responsible for the EU’s cyber threat analysis. She designed and developed the iOCTA, Europe’s flagship threat assessment on cybercrime, and authored 2020, scenarios for the future of cybercrime that were the basis for a successful short film series of the same name. Prior to this, Victoria was Principal Analyst at the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Victoria serves on the Advisory Boards of cybersecurity firm Reliance ACSN and the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), and is a trustee of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. She regularly contributes to major broadcast media on the topics of digital ethics, cybercrime and the misuse of emerging technologies. She is co-host of the award-nominated Cyber Warrior Princess podcast, demystifying cybersecurity for a popular audience.

Victoria read Greats at Trinity College, and holds a doctorate in Roman literature. She is a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University’s School of Computing, and a Non-resident Fellow of the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Research at ODID

The Rhetoric of Insecurity: a comparative study of danger, fear and safety in urban, national and international contexts

When governments speak about security and safety, how often do we think about the language they use? Can analysis of the rhetoric of public statements about security – how information is presented – help us to tell the difference between unadorned fact and appeals to our emotions?

My research at ODID considers the history of security rhetoric in a number of distinct but related contexts, including the United States’ security strategy, the ‘war’ on Big Tech, and ‘new’ concerns such as cybersecurity. Focusing on the language of security discourse, it draws common threads from the ancient world to the present day and the near future. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are by no means new marketing tactics. Governments and politicians in particular pay homage to a rich heritage of embellishment and exaggeration.

My work examines the potential impact on society of policy makers’ emphasis on the novelty of cybercrime, their likening of the Internet to the Wild West, and their claims that criminals have ‘gone dark’. It questions governments’ descriptions of technology companies in language normally reserved for terrorists, and asks who might benefit. It also seeks to ground recent comparisons of Donald Trump to the Emperor Nero in a linguistic evidence base.

Research interests:

Diplomacy, cybersecurity, online safety, connectivity, law enforcement, surveillance