My name is Heather Burns and I am a digital law and tech policy specialist. I research, write, publish, consult, and speak extensively on digital regulations and political issues, most specifically those that affect the crafts of web design and development. My mission is to educate digital professionals on the legal and political issues that impact our work, empower them to comply responsibly, and inspire them to view political involvement as an obligation to our industry.

Photo by Pradeep Singh – WordCamp London 2017

I have been designing web sites since 1997, when it involved using a phone tethered to a laptop to dial in to a text-only Unix terminal, and was a full-time professional web site designer from 2007-2015. My client-facing work was with charities, not-for-profits, and third sector organisations in Scotland. I have now chosen to focus exclusively on my digital law and policy work.

My work in digital law began in late 2011, when I volunteered to speak on the topic at a web development conference. Preparing that talk opened my eyes to the massive and counterproductive gap between the black-and-white world of legislators and the practical realities of the web design and development professions, and what started as a simple presentation ended up changing the course of my career.

While I am not a lawyer, most of the legislators who create digital laws are not internet users, much less designers or developers. Many digital professionals, for their part, take no interest in the political processes which create the laws that shape their work. Therein lies the problem. I view my work on digital law and policy as an attempt to build a bridge between the two parties.

In 2014 I wrote my first book, The Web Designer’s Guide to the Consumer Rights Directive, to help the web community get to grips with the EU e-commerce reforms. In 2015 I wrote for A List Apart and spoke to an international audience at WordCamp Europe on ten days’ notice. In 2016 I began to draw attention to the issues which Brexit and Donald Trump are causing for digital professionals on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2017 I helped to set up independent, adversarial industry body for digital professionals; got a shout out in the House of Commons; showed up in the Tavern; spilled my guts in HeroPress; helped to organise the best local WordCamp ever; moved a few audience members to tears; and moved other audience members to something else entirely. As for 2018?

I am available to write, speak, and consult on a range of digital law and policy issues. In addition to writing articles for web and mainstream publications, I have provided information and quotes for media outlets ranging from magazines to radio to business podcasts to adult industry sites.

In 2015 I earned a postgraduate certificate in Internet Law and Policy from the University of Strathclyde. Before web design existed as a career I earned a BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University in 2000, and cut my teeth working on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, and at an international nonprofit. I have also served on an organisational liaison committee to the Scottish Parliament. These practical experiences have given me insight into the capital-P and small p- politics that go into the formulation and dissemination of laws and policies.

My hobbies include 6 Music, cycling, and shouting at Andy Murray. I drink too much coffee and am probably on a train. I highly encourage you to buy me a book.

Contact details

Tel +44 (0)790 577 8255
contact at webdevlaw.uk
Skype: idea15webdesign
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, mostly…