Netsafe launches anti-cyberbullying service

Netsafe will receive, assess and investigate complaints of harm caused by digital communications under the Harmful Digital Communications Act

Netsafe, a non-profit organisation set up to safe and responsible use of online technologies, has launched its cyberbullying, online abuse and online harassment service saying recent research shows more than 50 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about cyber safety and cyber security.

From 21 November Netsafe will receive, assess and investigate complaints of harm caused by digital communications under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which became law in July 2015. It introduces criminal offences to penalise the most serious perpetrators, and makes it illegal to incite suicide regardless of whether or not the victim attempts to take their own life.

Justice Minister, Amy Adams, announced in May, that Netsafe had been appointed as the ‘Approved Agency’ under the Act. This requires it to advise on steps people can take to resolve a problem, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints where harm has been caused, and provide education and advice about online safety and conduct.

Adams said the 2016 Budget included $16.4 million of new funding to support the Act and the operation of the Approved Agency.

Netsafe says that, under the Act, it will be able to advise if there is anything that can be done to stop the abuse, work with those involved to stop it and liaise with online content hosts to remove harmful content. It will also be able to inform those involved of the likely outcome if they were to proceed to the District Court with a civil complaint.

Netsafe CEO, Martin Cocker, said: "Our new service will help to minimise harm for those affected by providing a quick resolution process. We’ll also continue to provide a range of services to help individuals, schools, families and businesses stay safe online.”

From November 21 Netsafe will begin taking calls about cyberbullying, online abuse and harassment toll free on 0508 NETSAFE and at netsafe.org.nz

Netsafe was founded as the Internet Safety Group in September 1998, incorporated as a society in April 2001 and changed its name to Netsafe in June 2008.

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