‘Coco’s Law a high priority to combat image-based crime’, says TD

by Rachel Darcy

It is hoped that legislation to combat the distribution of intimate photos and videos online without consent will become law before the end of the year.

Fianna Fáil TD and Chairperson for the Select Committee on Justice, James Lawless, has said that the legislation is ‘timely. This is following recent reports that thousands of Irish women had their intimate images leaked online without consent.

The Committee will meet twice this week to consider the Committee Stage of the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017, which has become known as Coco’s Law, which proposes to consolidate and reform the criminal law concerning harmful communications.

The Bill also proposes to make online harassment an offence and proposes a new offence of distributing an intimate image without consent.

Deputy Lawless said: “This important legislation was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in 2017 by Deputy Brendan Howlin, who now is a member of this Committee. We have made its progress a high priority to ensure it completes Committee Stage this term.

“The Bill has become known as Coco’s Law following the death of Nicole Fox Fenton, who tragically took her own life aged just 17 after she was bullied and harassed online.

“The Bill proposes to bring our laws into the digital age by making it a criminal offence punishable by a fine and/or up to seven years in prison to bully, abuse or harass people online. It also proposes similar sentences for so-called ‘revenge porn’ by introducing a new offence of distributing online intimate photos or videos without consent.

“While this Bill has been scheduled for some time now, its consideration is timely in view of the recent reports of thousands of intimate images being dumped on the internet without permission.

“Minister McEntee has already stated she wants this legislation to become law before the end of the year and the Committee looks forward to working with her to progress the Bill through Committee Stage.”

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