Netsafe has the responsibility to receive, assess and investigate reports about online bullying, abuse and harassment under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA). We will review digital communications that someone has claimed has harmed them and offer assistance to resolve them.

The information on this page is for people who are contacted by Netsafe about a report involving them.

I have been contacted by Netsafe, what does this mean?

I am an “alleged producer” 

When someone makes a report Netsafe, we may contact the person who they allege sent/posted the harmful content. We do this to find out if we can assist in resolving the issue.

If we’ve contacted you, it’s to let you know about the report and to ask your perspective. As Netsafe offers an impartial service we focus on resolving the issue reported to us and do not work on behalf of any party

If you don’t wish to resolve the report or if you are not responsible for the alleged content, we would still like to talk to you and give you further information about the HDCA.

Please note: The person making the report is also able to apply to the District Court for a court order under the HDCA. This is separate from Netsafe’s process and if you receive a summons you will need to contact the courts or a lawyer for information and advice.

Find out more about the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

I am an “online content host” 

An online content host is a person or organisation responsible for digital content online. For example, someone who runs a blog or a social media platform.

Netsafe’s role under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) is to assist with reports about digital communications that someone has claimed has harmed them. Netsafe is independent in this process and does not act as an advocate for any party involved.

Netsafe may make contact with the online content host allegedly causing harm. We are able to do this under the HDCA to assist in resolving reports.

If we contact you, we are likely asking you to consider removing the content we have reviewed and consider a breach of your terms of service or potentially breaching the HDCA. We may also ask that you review the content and consider taking action that you feel is appropriate. Sometimes we might ask if you would prefer to forward our communication to the person/account allegedly responsible for sharing the content (for example, if someone has written a guest blog post).

Under the HDCA, court orders can be granted against an online content host. For example, a court order to release the identity of an account holder if they have posted anonymously.

Netsafe is not an enforcement agency, but we do have a high success rate in helping people experiencing online harm. We are asking for your assistance to resolve a report and can clarify the process and the HDCA for you at any time.

Find out more about the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

FAQs

Can Netsafe force me to take action?

Netsafe has been appointed as the agency to resolve complaints related to harmful digital communications by the New Zealand government under the HDCA.

We are not an enforcement agency and cannot force someone to take action. If a report is not resolved under our process, a person is able take this through a legal avenue which may include applying to the District Court under the HDCA.

What if I deny responsibility when Netsafe contact me, can I still be taken to the District Court?

Yes, however it will be recorded that you have denied responsibility, and the Court will be notified of this.

The person who has made the report has caused me harm through digital communications. What can I do?

We would appreciate if you could talk to us and explain what has been happening from your perspective. If you want to make a report about someone under the HDCA you can find out how to do  this on our website.

Confidentiality

Netsafe respects the privacy of the parties involved in a complaint. Your conversation will be held in confidence, information will not be shared with either party of the complaint without consent. Netsafe protects the confidentiality of information obtained in the course of our service, consistent with legal requirements.

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.

Please note that if we feel there are concerns for your safety or the safety of someone else we may need to share information with other agencies. If you have questions about this you can ask us for more information. Netsafe’s full Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy is available online.

Contact Netsafe

You can contact us by calling 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or by emailing help@netsafe.org.nz. If you are based overseas you can call us on 06493620971.

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