In a landmark report, MPs and their peers urge the government to introduce a new offense – Zach’s Law – to protect people with epilepsy from malicious messages designed to induce seizures.
And the Epilepsy Society believes this is the first time an offense has been proposed to specifically protect people with epilepsy.
The recommendation was included in a report, released today, of a review panel to review the online security bill. And it follows a long campaign by the charity to bring internet trolls that target people with epilepsy within reach of the justice system.
The charity and its supporters have been the victims of a sustained and coordinated attack on Twitter, with criminals using keyboards sending flashing images causing seizures to people with epilepsy. One of the first victims was the then eight-year-old Zach Eagling, who became the campaign’s leading figure.
Clare Pelham, CEO of the Epilepsy Society, said: “The English legal system is rightly famous as part of our ancient history and heritage. But this recommendation shows that it is also innovative and a world leader.
“I am proud that our country is leading the way in bringing our values of courtesy and civility to the badlands of social media. For the criminal law to protect vulnerable people from Keyboard Warriors who courageously target people with disabilities behind a mask of anonymity, maliciously targeting people with epilepsy with flashing images designed to induce seizures. And that it will allow them to enjoy the online world in safety.
“We believe Zach’s Law is the first offense ever specifically designed to protect people with epilepsy. And I hope where we lead the rest of the world will follow.
“I want to thank the review panel for recognizing the seriousness of this crime and for supporting our call to protect people like Zach who has been maliciously targeted, but who so bravely stood up for what is right.”
Working with the Law Commission
The Epilepsy Society worked closely with the Law Commission which recommended that a new offense to combat malicious flashing images aimed at people with epilepsy be introduced.
The Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill endorsed its recommendation, stressing that the criminal law relating to online communication predates the era of social media and modern search engines, and needs to be updated. day.
In its report, the 12-state parliamentary committee, MPs and peers want to see a new offense in the law book as soon as possible: “We endorse the Law Commission’s recommendations regarding new criminal offenses in its reports, Modernize communication offenses and Hate Crimes Laws. The reports recommend the creation of new offenses in relation to… sending flashing images to people with photosensitive epilepsy with the intention of causing a seizure.
“The government must commit to providing the police and the courts with adequate resources to tackle existing illegal content and any new offenses introduced as a result of the recommendations of the Law Commission.
Zach is a hero
Claire Keer, Zach Eagling’s mother, said, “It’s such a relief to see Zach’s Law as a recommendation in the Joint Committee’s report on the Online Safety Bill. Since Zach was attacked online 18 months ago, we’ve been working with the Epilepsy Society to try to change the law and bring these criminals to justice.
“Zach met with politicians, the Law Commission and editors of national newspapers. It meant several days away from school. The report’s recommendations make every missed day worth it, not just for Zach, but for the thousands of people with photosensitive epilepsy around the world who are at risk of a seizure every time they go online. Zach is only 10 years old but his persistence shows what can be achieved and that the law can and should be there to defend us.
The government will now consider the committee’s recommendations, incorporating them where it believes they will strengthen the Online Safety Bill with a view to making Britain the safest place to go online.