Netsafe’s role under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) is to assist with reports of digital communications. We are not an enforcement agency, but do have a high success rate in helping people experiencing online harm

Harmful digital communications 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 make a report to Netsafe about a harmful digital communication? 

Once you have made a report to Netsafe a member of the team may be in contact to request further information if needed. We might ask for screenshots of the content you are reporting. If you are able to, 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 copies of digital content.

We will review the content the report is about and consider the information you have provided.

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.

If we consider that the issue may fall within the remit of the Harmful Digital Communication Act (HDCA), we will offer some options available to you that could help resolve your report. Even if a case does not fall within the remit of the Act, there are often options we can recommend.

We do not act on anything without your consent. We do 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 want to achieve, we can offer advice about the further options available to you.

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.

Will Netsafe report my issue to the Police? 

Netsafe is separate from the Police. If you feel a crime has been committed, please contact your local Police station. 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 report, but change my mind what will happen? 

It is your report, if you decide you do not wish to proceed let us know and we can close it. If you change your mind, we can always be reopened.  

Do you contact the person involved in my report? 

As a way to resolve your report we may ask that we contact the other parties involved to see what steps they are prepared to take. For example to see if they remove content or cease any harmful behaviour. We will always obtain your consent to do this.

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

No, you are not required to send the content to us. We will ask you to explain what has happened, but we will not ask for copies. 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 read more about 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. Netsafe’s full Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy is available online.

More information