Conference – Digital Justice and Online Harms in the Context of the Online Safety Act

Monday 24 June 2024, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm BST, Ipswich, UK


The University of Suffolk and the South West Grid for Learning are coordinating a national event on digital justice and online harms in the context of the Online Safety Act. The event will be hosted by the University of Suffolk at our quayside Ipswich campus, and is aimed at researchers, professionals, policy makers and experts by experience.


Following more than five years of mobilization by civil society and policy actors, the Online Safety Act (OSA) was granted Royal Assent in October 2023. The Act has been hailed as world-leading legislation, establishing the UK as “the safest place in the world to be online” (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology et al, 2023).

The OSA is designed to empower users, hold service providers to account and tackle online harms. This conference will bring together stakeholders from across the UK to explore challenges, next steps and new horizons in promoting online safety in the wake of the OSA, inviting talks, workshops and creative submissions from researchers, policymakers, practitioners and experts by experience.

The event will focus on preventing online and technology-facilitated violence and abuse, and promoting digital justice and inclusion, with a particular focus on gendered harms including image-based sexual abuse, cyberstalking and harassment, and technology-facilitated coercive control and domestic abuse.

Conference themes and topics include:

Policy – Implementation, enforcement and appraisal of the OSA; the Criminal Justice Bill; regulating harmful but legal content; intersections between gendered online abuse and radicalization/terrorism, the Istanbul Convention

Practice and communities – Trauma-informed, intersectional and culturally responsive practice; coordinated community responses to online harms; peer support and active bystander approaches

Technology – safety by design; trauma-informed and accessible design; generative AI and new frontiers in online and technology-facilitated harms

Experience – research, practice and/or lived experience focused contributions by survivors of online and technology-facilitated abuse


Keynote speakers and internationally renowned specialists on online harms Professor Emma Bond (Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Professor of Socio-Technical Research, University of Suffolk) and Professor Andy Phippen (Professor of IT Ethics and Digital Rights, Bournemouth University) will open the conference, discussing technology-facilitated violence and abuse, social policy and the role and limits of criminalisation.

The first plenary session will feature a joint panel discussion and Q&A including sector experts the South West Grid for Learning, and University of Suffolk researchers Dr Katherine Allen and Dr Megan Hermolle, regarding the collaborative journey to identify and address gaps in support for those affected by online harms and the opportunities and challenges of the current policy, technology and practice context.

Parallel theme sessions will include a range of speakers from academia, technology, and practice, including:

Dr Partha Das Chowdhury (Senior Research Associate at the Bristol Cyber Security Group and REPHRAIN, University of Bristol) will explore the benefits of a capability approach to protecting citizens online

Ciara Riordan (The Real Project) will lead an interactive workshop on empowering young people and educating them about the law on online harms

Karen Phillips (Woman and Child Abuse MA Alumna) will discuss virtual reality, the fantasy/reality framework, and the limitations of current legal and policy discourses around pornography in the light of evolving technologies

Louisa Street (Doctoral Researcher, Keele University) will draw on her experiences as a youth worker, discussing young people’s experiences of image based sexual abuse, reporting and help seeking in the context of the Protection of Children Act (1978) and Online Safety Act (2023)

Dr Jeffrey DeMarco (Senior Fellow for the Centre of Abuse and Trauma Studies and Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Middlesex University London) and Dr Ruth Spence (Senior Research Fellow in Psychology) will co-lead a workshop on the benefits of Psychological First Aid as an evidence-informed intervention for commercial content moderators exposed to harmful content

Dr Joanne C. Walker (Researcher at British Telecom, MA student in Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Essex) will lead a workshop on coercive control resistant and trauma-informed design in the context of technology-facilitated domestic abuse, exploring recent guidance developed with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. Joanne will also deliver a talk introducing the concept of ‘spotlighting’ through technology-facilitated domestic abuse as a means of increasing victim-survivors’ susceptibility to their abuse and control, and exacerbating emotional and somatic impacts.

Carolyn Leader (Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies) will reflect on her experiences as a researcher investigating gender and sexuality in online spaces, exploring the normalisation of online abuse, and missing discourses about consent, on Tinder.

Dr Ruth Spence

Fiona Ellis (CEO, Survivors in Transition)

Alison Jordan (Wellbeing Team Lead, Survivors in Transition)


Find more information and book your free place here:

This event will be held at University of Suffolk, Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, Ipswich, UK.

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