The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill was officially launched yesterday (February 9th) to mark Safer Internet Day.
The law has created two new offences to criminalise non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
The first offence addresses the distribution or publication of intimate images without consent and with the intent to cause harm which can lead to an unlimited fine and/or seven years in imprisonment.
The second offence addresses the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent even if there is no intent to cause harm. This offence carries a maximum penalty of a €5,000 fine and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said: “Coco’s Law represents a big step forward in tackling harassment and harmful communications.”
The Bill was first introduced by Brendan Howlin of the Labour Party spurred by Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox, who died tragically after suffering online harassment,
Nicole’s mother Jackie Fox led a lengthy campaign to pass the Bill into law and criminalise online bullying.
Ms Fox said: “I hope Nicole is proud of me today for never giving up and for making her name Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox live on forever.”
A new ‘Research Observatory on Cyberbullying’ has been introduced in an agreement between the Department of Justice, The National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU and the Department of Education.
The Observatory aims to provide up-to-date research and resources on monitoring cyberhate alongside implementing Coco’s Law.
Recent findings by DCU reported that up to 28% of young people aged between 10 to 17 reported they were targets of cyberbullying.
Professor James O’Higgins Norman of DCU said: “There is clearly a need for us to understand this problem and in particular its impact on young people.”
For more information or support in relation to image based sexual abuse, see the resources below: