Under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA), Netsafe receives complaints about digital communications that someone has claimed has harmed them in some way, and offers assistance to resolve them. The information on this page is for people who are contacted by Netsafe as an “alleged producer” in a complaint and “online content hosts”.
I have been contacted by Netsafe, what does this mean?
I am an “alleged producer” in a complaint
When someone makes a complaint to Netsafe, we sometimes 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 notify you about the complaint and to hear from your perspective what has been happening. We are an impartial agency and we do not work on behalf of either party or form a view about either party’s alleged actions. We do not act as an advocate for any party involved in a complaint. If you don’t wish to resolve the complaint, or you are not responsible for the alleged content, we would still like to speak with you so that we can record your views and provide you with further information about the HDCA if requested.
Please note: the person making the complaint 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.
I am an “online content host” in a complaint
An online content host is a person or organisation that is a responsible for digital content that is being housed somewhere 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 complaints about digital communications that someone has claimed has harmed them in some way. Netsafe is independent in this process, and does not act as an advocate for any party involved in the complaint.
Netsafe often makes contact with the online content hosts of the content that is allegedly causing harm. We are able to do this under the HDCA to enable us to assist in resolving complaints.
If we contact you, we are likely asking if you will consider removing content we have reviewed as being a breach of your terms of service or potentially breaching the HDCA. Alternatively, we may just ask that you review it 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.
Please note that Netsafe does not have powers to force you to take action – we are asking for your assistance to resolve a complaint. You can ask us for information or clarification of the process and the HDCA at any time.
Can Netsafe force me to take action?
Netsafe is contacting you under the HDCA. Netsafe has been chosen by the New Zealand government to be the “approved agency” under the HDCA. Our role under the HDCA, is to assist in finding a resolution between the parties involved in a complaint. We are not an enforcement agency, and therefore we cannot force someone to take action or punish people. However, if a complaint is not resolved under our process a person is free to take this complaint 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 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 complaint has actually been causing me harm through digital communications.
We would appreciate you talking with us to explain what has been happening from your perspective. If you wish to make a complaint about someone to Netsafe you find information about how to do so on our website.
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.
You can contact us about a complaint by calling 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.