The law commences today.
The sharing of intimate images without a person’s consent is now illegal.
The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017, which was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last year, commenced today (February 9). The offence carries a penalty of up to €5,000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.
Informally named ‘Coco’s Law’, the legislation criminalises image based sexual abuse and other forms of online abuse in Ireland. The law is named after Nicole Fox Fenlon, a 21-year-old women who died by suicide in 2018 after being cyber-bullied.
Nicole’s mother, Jackie Fox, has campaigned tirelessly for harsher punishments against online abuse since her daughter’s passing. She told Her last year that after Nicole’s death, she made it her mission to make cyber-bullying illegal in Ireland.
“I had numerous meetings in the Dáil with various parties, protests, and a march through Dublin to highlight the importance of a badly needed law,” she says.
“I finally found Brendan Howlin who drafted up a law called the Harmful Harassment Communications Related Act, also known as Coco’s law. This law is in the equality of justice committee at the moment which is stage 3.
“Because we didn’t have a government for the last few months and with everything that has happened with Covid-19, everything paused. But I’ve never stopped fighting to get it pushed through.”
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said today: “Image based abuse is absolutely disgusting and can ruin lives. There can be no tolerance for online abuse. Coco’s Law represents a big step forward in tackling harassment and harmful communications.
“I am honoured to pay tribute to the memory of Nicole Fox, and to the selfless efforts of her mother, Jackie, who has tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness about the harmful effects of online abuse and to make our laws stronger in this area.”
The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill was first proposed by former Labour party leader Brendan Howlin in 2017.