After commencement of Coco’s Law the next challenge is to change online culture

09 February 2021
  • Education programme targeted at young people needed to change online culture.

With the commencement later today of his Private Members Bill, now law, to tackle online harassment and harmful communications, Labour Party Justice spokesperson Brendan Howlin paid tribute to campaigners like Jackie Fox, and said the next challenge was to change online culture.

Deputy Howlin said:

“After three years of campaigning it’s great to see my private members Bill, Coco’s law, finally become the law of the land when it is commenced today by the Minister for Justice.

“Today marks Safer Internet Day and it is fitting that the legal provisions covering online harassment and image based sexual abuse come into legal effect today after three years of legislative work.

“Great credit is due to all who were involved in the campaign, people like Jackie Fox, and many others whose family members have suffered terribly because of online abuse. In honour of Jackie’s persistent campaigning in memory of her daughter Nicole Fenlon Fox, the bill is named Coco after her.

“That critical advocacy has paid off, and we now have a different legal framework modernised to ensure that there are sanctions available against those who cause harm online.

“The internet is a public space and people should be as safe there as they would in a public playing field or on the public road.

“Obviously, putting in the legal framework is an important step but a cultural change so that people respect one another online is a much more difficult challenge for us.

“That’s why there is a requirement now for an educational programme, particularly among young people to understand that what happens online, often stays there forever, and that people need to have the same respect and regard for others online as they would in direct contact with one another.

“Hopefully today will be the start of a different approach to the way society treats one another online, and that online bullying and harassment, and the sharing of intimate images without consent that has led in the past to terrible suffering will be become will become a thing of the past.”

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