Legislation criminalising sharing of intimate images without consent signed into law

‘Coco’s Law’ is named for Nicole Fox, who took her own life after online harassment

The President has signed into law a Bill criminalising the sharing of intimate images without the subjects’ consent. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The President has signed into law a Bill criminalising the sharing of intimate images without the subjects’ consent. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

The President has signed into law a Bill criminalising the sharing of intimate images without the subjects’ consent.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, 2017, targets so-called revenge porn, where people distribute intimate photos of others online to embarrass or harass their victims.

It will be known as “Coco’s Law” after Nicole Fox (21), who took her own life after years of online harassment and whose mother campaigned for strengthened legislation in this regard.

“Having considered the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, 2017, President Higgins has today signed the Bill and it has accordingly become law,” a statement from President Michael D Higgins said on Monday.

The legislation was first proposed by former Labour leader Brendan Howlin before being adopted by the Government.

It will create two new offences. The first will make it a crime to take, distribute, publish or threaten to distribute intimate images without the subjects’ consent and with the intent to cause harm. This will be punishable by up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The second, less serious, offence involves doing the same but with no intent to cause harm. It carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a €5,000 fine.

It will be irrelevant to both offences if the subject consented to the image initially being taken if it is then subsequently published or distributed without consent.

If the offender was in an intimate relationship with the victim at the time then this should be considered an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing, the law states.