Damian Collins OBE has been the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe since 2010. He has served as Minister for Tech and Digital Economy in the UK government, and is a former Chair of the House of Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. In 2021 Damian also chaired the Joint Committee of the UK Parliament on the Online Safety Bill.
As Tech Minister, Damian was responsible for the Online Safety Bill, digital markets and competition and AI policy. During his time as Chair of the Select Committee, he led a number of high profile inquiries, including the investigations into Cambridge Analytica and social media disinformation, additive and immersive technologies, doping in sport and the reform of sports governance, and the responsibilities of the creators of reality television programmes.
Damian has been profiled by Time magazine, and appeared in documentary films including The Great Hack and Rio Ferdinand’s Tipping Point. He has also written on politics and technology for Wired magazine, The Times, The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the Daily Mail.
Damian has also spoken at numerous international conferences, including the Athens Democracy Forum, Copenhagen Democracy Summit, the Tallin Digital Summit, the MyData conference in Helsinki, and Wired Live. He has also been a guest speaker for major international think tanks, including Chatham House and the Atlantic Council as well as at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, Stamford University, Georgetown University and the George Washington University.
Damian is also an author, with Charmed Life: The Phenomenal World of Philip Sassoon, a biography of the politician, millionaire and aesthete Philip Sassoon published by HarperCollins in 2016. He is currently writing a biography of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2024. He has also written for Iain Dale’s series of biographical essay books, The Prime Ministers, The Presidents, and Kings and Queens. For these Damian wrote respectively about David Lloyd George, Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VIII.
Infotagion: The world has been gripped by two viruses, the biological COVID-19 and what the World Health Organisation has called an ‘infodemic’ of disinformation spreading through online media, delivering its poison of fake remedies and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. This information contagion has killed people by persuading them to take dangerous chemicals which would supposedly protect them from COVID-19, caused arson attacks on mobile phone masts which have been wrongly labelled as the cause of the virus, and undermined confidence in the advice given by governments and medical professionals.
We are living through the first major public health emergency in the age of social media disinformation, made worse by the fact that whilst the major tech companies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are the platforms through which disinformation spreads, they have little or no legal responsibility for it. In this talk, Damian explains how we need a new approach where we create a mindset shift amongst the public, so they check what they see before sharing it, and also the need to create responsibilities in law for tech companies to act against harmful content, with proper independent oversight to see that they comply.