Zoe O’Connell was born in Essex and grew up in Burnham-on-Crouch, attending first St.Mary’s CoE Primary School, before moving to a secondary school in Chelmsford and finally studying Computer Science at Brunel University in London. She worked in computing after graduating and has held a number of senior technical roles, most notably for Internet Service Providers but also in a wide variety of other industries. These include fashion, sports, construction, finance and off-shore oil. She has served nearly five years as a member of the Army Reserve, in both the Royal Signals and Intelligence Corps.
Zoe’s technical work often brought her into contact with the police and security services. This inspired much of her early political activity, which centred on online civil liberties including opposition to authoritarian aspects of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000. Her work opposing the Snooper’s Charter, working with Liberal Democrat MPs, generated headlines in 2012, following the Home Office’s refusal to justify a £1.8bn price tag for the controversial internet surveillance program. It was ultimately shelved.
She is also well known for her work on equalities, particularly LGB and Transgender issues. She is co-author of the Liberal Democrats’ Equalities Policy Paper which was passed by a large majority at the party’s 2014 autumn conference. Zoe said, “I am a passionate believer in removing the barriers that prevent all people from participating fully in society. As well as bringing some desperately needed technical experience to parliament, I will ensure that neither Labour nor the Conservatives can roll back the equalities progress that many of us have fought for in this parliament”.
Zoe has three children and can often be found sailing locally around the Crouch and Blackwater rivers.