Essex expert praised in House of Lords for work on Online Safety Bill

  • Date

    Tue 26 Sep 23

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

Essex legal expert Lorna Woods has earned special recognition in the House of Lords thanks to her research and work supporting the landmark Online Safety Bill.

The bill has now successfully passed through Parliament, having originally been drafted in May 2021, and now just needs Royal Assent to be enshrined in law.

Professor Woods has helped influence the bill after famously writing some of its founding principles on the back of a sandwich packet with the help of William Perrin, of the charity Carnegie UK, several years ago.

Professor Woods has continued to work with Carnegie throughout the last few years and provided expert advice to backbenchers and members of the House of Lords.

She was personally thanked following the final debate in the Lords by Lord Stevenson for her work on the bill.

Lord Clement Jones added: “I pay my own tribute to Carnegie UK, especially Will Perrin, Maeve Walsh and Professor Lorna Woods, for having the vision five years ago as to what was possible around the construction of a duty of care and for being by our side throughout the creation of this bill.”

Professor Woods has become a high-profile commentator on the bill throughout its passage on Parliament, and recently recounted the “surreal moment “it was approved by the Lords in an interview with the BBC Online.

In a separate interview with Wired, Professor Woods responded to criticisms of the bill by insisting it would help protect the human rights of children being exploited and abused online.

She was also quoted in the New York Times’ own coverage of the Bill, and has also appeared on BBC Radio Five Live.

Professor Woods said: “The Bill is significant as it marks a move from self-regulation - where service providers decide what is safe design and whether to enforce their community standards - to regulation under which services are accountable for those choices.”