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Key features of the Harmful Digital Communications Act

This is a summary of key measures in the Act (external link) to deal with cyberbullying and other modern forms of harassment and intimidation.

New complaints agency

NetSafe (external link) , the 'approved agency' under the Act, will resolve complaints about harmful digital communications, providing a quick and efficient way to seek help from an independent body.

NetSafe’s role includes providing education and information on harmful digital communications and how internet users can resolve problems themselves, investigating serious complaints and attempting to reach settlements between complainants and content authors. NetSafe will also liaise with website hosts, internet service providers and other intermediaries (both here and overseas) and ask them to take down or moderate content that’s clearly harmful.

You can report incidents to NetSafe here (external link) .

New court orders

The District Court has a new process to help you in serious or repeat cases. The court can order a range of remedies, including:

You will need to make a complaint to NetSafe before approaching the court. NetSafe may be able to assist you in resolving the case outside of court.

You can read more about the court process, including how to apply for a Harmful Digital Communications order, on the Ministry of Justice's website (external link) .

Encouraging suicide

It's illegal to incite someone to commit suicide, regardless of whether or not someone attempts to take their own life. Until now, it’s only been illegal to aid, abet or incite suicide if a person actually attempts or commits suicide.

Making it easier to complain about harmful content 

The Act recognises that telecommunications companies and websites, blogs, social media platforms and forums where users can post content (known as online content hosts) shouldn’t necessarily be held responsible for others’ actions.

The Act includes an optional “safe harbour” provision, which limits hosts’ liability for harmful content posted by others – but only if they follow a set process for handling complaints.

Under the safe harbour process, hosts have to make it easy for you to make a complaint about content they’re hosting. They also have to follow certain steps within certain timeframes.

Watch the video to find out about how safe harbour works.

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