Howlin welcomes final passage of his bill – Coco’s Law – to tackle online harassment and image based sexual abuse

18 December 2020
  • Long three year campaign to make the internet a safer place.
  • New law will tackle image based sexual abuse and online harassment.
  • Bill named in honour of Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox Fenlon.

Labour Justice Spokesperson, Brendan Howlin today welcomed the final passage of his Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill through the Seanad after a three year long campaign that will make the internet a safer place, by criminalising online harassment and image based sexual abuse.

Welcoming the new law, Deputy Howlin said:

“This is a very important piece of legislation. Our harassment laws have not changed since the advent of text messaging and we now live in a very different age in terms of online communication. After three long years of work and campaigning I am so happy this has now passed the Oireachtas and it will make the internet a safer place.

“Today I am thinking most of the parents and family members who worked with me to ensure this became law, in honour of lost daughters, sons and family members, and all those who have been damaged by online abuse.

“We all know the often-tragic consequences of online harassment and image based sexual abuse and the passage into law of this important Bill will ensure that the perpetrators of this vile abuse will be brought to justice.

“I first introduced this Bill in 2017 on foot of a campaign from Jackie Fox following the tragic death of her daughter Nicole because of a persistent campaign of online harassment. I would like to pay tribute to Jackie for her advocacy and tenacity in ensuring that this Bill was kept on the political agenda. I am very proud that the Bill will be called ‘Coco’s Law.

“In September of this year, I accepted a petition with over 33,000 signatures calling for this law to be passed and heard the moving testimony from parents who have lost children to online harassment. I want to pay tribute to them for their advocacy in the most tragic of circumstances. I also want to thank the Minister for Justice, and members of both Houses for working with me in recent weeks to finally get this much needed bill passed into law.

“This new law is an important first step in dealing with online harassment and image based sexual abuse and sends out an important message to the perpetrators that these vile crimes will not be tolerated. It will ensure those who use the internet to abuse and harass will be held to account.”

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