The Online Safety Bill delivers the government’s manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending free expression. The Bill has been strengthened and clarified since it was published in draft in May 2021 and reflects the outcome of extensive Parliamentary scrutiny.
Dean played a significant role in scrutinising the Bill, as a member of the Joint Committee on the Bill.
He joined the Committee in July 2021 to help ensure that the aims of the Bill were enshrined into law which would see tech platforms having a much stronger duty of care to protect its users.
This ground-breaking and critical bill puts the responsibility firmly on internet service providers for the content that is being shared on their platforms, including for serious crimes like child abuse, fraud, racist abuse, the promotion of self-harm, and violence against women, for which previously there was little enforceable sanction.
It is through Dean’s work on the Committee that he became a champion of the ‘Zach’s Law’ campaign. Zach Eagling, who was diagnosed with both epilepsy and cerebral palsy, was subjected to a targeted and malicious online attack after his mother, Claire Keer, posted Zach’s achievements of completing 130 laps of their garden unaided in his efforts to raise donations for the Epilepsy Society. Hundreds of flashing images were sent to Claire’s account with the intention of causing Zach to experience a seizure.
After the Draft Bill Committee recommended Zach’s Law be included in the Online Safety Bill, Dean engaged directly with executives of online platforms and social media bodies to ensure protections were in place to protect young and vulnerable users.