People in New Zealand are able to make a complaint to Netsafe about digital communications that are causing them harm.

This includes online/digital bullying, abuse and harassment, and when someone has put something online that: 

  • Tries to get someone to hurt themselves 
  • Shares intimate images without consent (shared nudes, sometimes called “revenge porn”)
  • Encourages other people to send harmful messages to someone 
  • Most people would think is very offensive 
  • Shares someone’s sensitive private information without their permission 
  • Makes a false allegation about someone
  • Shares confidential information about someone without their permission
  • Puts someone down because of their colour, race, ethnic or national origins, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability 
  • Is indecent or obscene 
  • Threatens to hurt someone or damage their property 
  • Other content that is causing harm

What happens when you contact Netsafe to make a complaint about someone? 

Once you have made initial contact with Netsafe either through phone, email or through our online report form, a member of the Netsafe team will be in touch to request any further information needed. We might ask for screenshots of the content you are reporting. If you feel able to do so, always save copies of content which is upsetting you by recording URLs to the content or taking screenshots. We have advice about how to keep records of digital content.

When we contact you, we’ll let you know what we are able to do and not able to do, so you have a clear understanding about how we can assist.

We will review the content the complaint is about and consider the information you have provided. If we consider that the issue may fall within the remit of the Harmful Digital Communication Act (HDCA) and it is appropriate, we will offer some options available to you that could help resolve your complaint.  Even if a case does not fall within the remit of the Act, there are often options we can recommend.

Please note this is your complaint, so we do not act on anything without your consent, however we also ask that you are open to the advice we give and the options we ask you to consider.  

If we are unable to assist in obtaining the outcome you are hoping to achieve, we can provide advice about the further options available to you; for example, information about applying to the District Court. 

Find out more about the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

FAQS 

How can I make a report?

We are open from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and from 9am-5pm weekends and public holidays.

Once I make a complaint, can Netsafe report it to the Police? 

Netsafe is separate from the Police. If you feel a crime has been committed, please report to your local Police Station directly. If it involves digital communications, you can make a complaint to Netsafe too as there are other options we may be able to help with in addition to the Police.

If I make a complaint but then change my mind what will happen? 

It is your complaint, if you decide you do not wish to proceed with it please let us know and we can close it. If you change your mind at any time your complaint can always be reopened.  

Do you contact the person that I have complained about? 

As a way to try and resolve your complaint we may advise that we contact the other parties involved to see what steps they are prepared to take, for example to remove content or cease any harmful behaviour. Your consent to do this will always be obtained in advance.

What if I want to make a complaint about someone who has shared my nude images, do I have to send you them? 

No, you are not required to send these to us. We will ask that you explain to us what has happened, but we will not ask for copies of the images. It is useful for you to screenshot any account names that have shared your images and if possible any messages of the threats to share your images. You can find out more about the imaged based abuse (sometimes known as “revenge porn”) on our website.

Confidentiality

Netsafe protects the confidentiality of information obtained in the course of our service, consistent with legal requirements. Netsafe also respects the privacy of the parties, however, in some circumstance we may be required by law to share personal information with others, for example, where we are concerned for your safety or the safety of someone else.

We always act with respect and discretion when you discuss things with us, but sometimes, we might need to tell someone else. This could happen, for example, if we think you or another could be seriously harmed. Breaking a person’s confidentiality is not something we do unless we absolutely have to. And we always think about this carefully before we do it.

If you have questions about this you can ask us for more information.

More information