A petition calling on TDs to introduce a law which would make online abuse a criminal offence has been handed into the Dáil this afternoon.
The 'Coco's law' petition aims to address the issues of online abuse, cyberbullying and revenge porn.
It is named after a young woman, 21-year-old Nicole Fox Fenlon, who died by suicide following a prolonged period of online abuse in 2018.
Since her daughter's death, Nicole's mother Jackie Fox has campaigned for stricter punishment measures for online abuse.
Ms Fox is hoping that the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, which was drafted by Labour Justice spokesperson Brendan Howlin, will get the necessary backing from TDs when it passes through Leinster House tomorrow.
When will government amendments be ready to pass Coco’s Law?@alankellylabour asks the Taoiseach to please help get the law passed to take on cyber bullying and online harassment after the powerful stories told by family members outside the Dáil today.#letsbringincocoslaw pic.twitter.com/Bloi0kz6XJ— The Labour Party (@labour) September 16, 2020
Speaking on Newstalk radio this afternoon, Ms Fox explained some of the specifics of what the bill calls for.
She said: “They’re going to make online bullying a criminal offence, where you could get up to seven years where it causes someone to take their own life.
"There’s a fine of €2500, and the bill will also involve revenge porn."
The proposed law would urge social media companies to co-operate with investigations into cyber-bullying.
The Bill would see the legal definition of 'communication' updated to include electronic communication, both written and spoken.
It would therefore encompass messaging on apps like WhatsApp and iMessage, as well as social media posts on the likes of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
In a statement today, Brendan Howlin said the current laws around online abuse were outdated.
He said: “The last time we updated these types of laws was when texting came in 30 years ago.
“I first introduced this Bill more than three years and unfortunately we did not make the progress we wanted with the previous Minister for Justice.
"When I reintroduce the Bill tomorrow, as it has been adapted by the Government, it will go directly into Committee.
Mr Howlin said he has received assurance that Justice Minister Helen McEntee will lend her support to the bill.
“I was moved to hear the heart-breaking testimony from the parents of three young women who took their own lives because of persistent online harassment.
"The Government need to act now to protect victims of online harassment and ensure that this Bill becomes law before Christmas," Mr Howlin added.