About Me

Compassion, to be effective, requires detailed knowledge and understanding of how society works. Any social system in turn requires men and women in it of imagination and goodwill. What would be fatal would be for those with exceptional human insight and concern to concentrate on ministering to individuals, whilst those accepting responsibility for the design and management of organisations were left to become technocrats. What is important is that institutions and their administration be constantly tested against human values, and that those who are concerned about these values be prepared to grapple with the complex realities of modern society as it is.Grigor McClelland, 1976

My name is Heather Burns and I am a tech policy wonk based in Glasgow, Scotland. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. That means I advocate for policy and technology developments which keep the internet open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy.

This is my personal site, and the content and opinions on it do not reflect the opinions of any previous employer. On that subject, I am on the market again; usual rules apply.

I’m also currently an Internet Society Mid-Career Fellow, which means I have no spare capacity for any side projects or consultancy gigs.

The Book is out (!) and here it is.

Past work

  • 2022: Head of Policy and Governance, MaidSafe
  • 2020 – 2021: Policy Manager, Open Rights Group
  • 2015 – 2020: Freelance tech policy and regulation specialist for clients across the startup, digital rights, privacy, digital agency, and games sectors
  • 2011 – 2020: Open source software contributor and community member
  • 2007 – 2015: Full-time web designer and developer
  • 2000 – 2005: Worked in international relations and community development

In August 2018 I was flattered to be named as Smashing Magazine’s Person of the Week for my work on GDPR and privacy. Photo taken by some Geordie in a Belgrade dive bar run by two refugees from Reading ’94.

Current interests

  • Intermediary liability, particularly in an international context (e.g. the OSB vs the DSA)
  • Privacy privilege in law and academia
  • Ethics washing, as is apparent in the post-Brexit legislative context
  • Legal endogeneity, e.g. when the interpretation of internet legislation drafted without practitioner involvement is, nevertheless, delegated to them

Contact information

Locations: Glasgow, Scotland, Europe; also Manchester, England, UK

Email: contact at webdevlaw.uk

Social: LinkedIn // Twitter: @webdevlaw // Zuckervegan (I’m not on FB, IG, or WhatsApp)

Due to a recent outbreak of incredibly stupid journo requests, I am not doing any media spots (interviews / radio / etc) right now, on any topic, so don’t bother asking.

Portrait photography © Julie Broadfoot – www.juliebee.co.uk