MP welcomes victory for 'Zach's Law' over online hate

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb has welcomed the Government's announcement that it will outlaw flashing online images sent to trigger seizures in people with epilepsy, following a two-year campaign she was involved in.

Suzanne Webb with Zach Eagling
Suzanne Webb with Zach Eagling

Zach’s Law has been supported by Suzanne after she heard how Zach Eagling, who suffers from epilepsy, was sent flashing images on social media by vile trolls after meeting his mother.

Zach, who also has cerebral palsy, was sent the images while he took part in a charity walk around his garden in 2020 aged only nine.

Ms Webb has worked for nearly two years with fellow MP Dean Russell and the Epilepsy Society to push for the legislation.

Minister Chris Philp this week announced a commitment to introduce a standalone offence to tackle internet trolls who maliciously target the 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK.

The drafting of the legislation will happen over the coming months. Mr Philp said he would engage with the Epilepsy Society and other relevant organisations to ensure the legislation is delivered.

Ms Webb said: “I am delighted with this announcement for Zach, his family and for all those who suffer from epilepsy and have the right to be safe while online,”

“It has taken some time since I met with Zach’s mom Claire Keer and I sat on the draft online Safety Bill committee but it is a big win and one that is much needed.

“It has been an honour to work with Zach and his mum, my colleagues and the Epilepsy Society to lobby for this important change in the law.

“Zach is quite simply a true inspiration and is selflessly making a massive difference. I know he is really pleased with this announcement and I thank the minister for listening to those who have worked on this campaign.”

Claire Keer said: “I am so happy to hear that the Government has committed to enacting Zach’s Law in full. We have said all along that there must be a standalone offence and we were delighted that this has now been accepted by ministers.

“Zach is my hero and always will be. I am delighted that at the age of 11 years old, he is on the verge of changing the law.

Nicola Swanborough, head of external affairs at the Epilepsy Society added: “A huge thanks to both Dean Russell and Suzanne Webb for standing alongside us throughout this campaign. They have shown immense dedication to this cause, have never given up and have advocated both publicly and behind the scenes to ensure this wonderful outcome.

“We were thrilled to hear the Government give their unequivocal commitment to introducing Zach’s Law, making it a specific offence to troll people with epilepsy by sending flashing images online.

“This offence will be a first in epilepsy and is a real win for everyone who has joined us on our Zach’s Law campaign. Most importantly, it will make social media a safer place for the 600,000 people with the condition in the UK.

“We now urge the Government to enact this legislation without delay.”

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