The internet is synonymous with robust conversations. That does not mean that it is any more okay to publish defamatory comments or false allegations online than it is anywhere else. The Harmful Digital Communications Act was passed in 2015 to help people dealing with serious or repeated harmful digital communications.
What type of communication does the Act cover?
It covers any harmful digital communications (like text, emails or social media content) which can include racist, sexist and religiously intolerant comments – plus those about disabilities or sexual orientation.
What are the 10 communication principles?
Digital communication should not:
- disclose sensitive personal facts about an individual
- be threatening, intimidating, or menacing
- be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual
- be indecent or obscene
- be used to harass an individual
- make a false allegation
- contain a matter that is published in breach of confidence
- incite or encourage anyone to send a message to an individual for the purpose of causing harm to the individual
- incite or encourage an individual to commit suicide
- denigrate an individual by reason of colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability
What does the law aim to do?
The Harmful Digital Communication Act aims to prevent and reduce the impact of cyberbullying, harassment, image-based abuse (sometimes known as revenge porn) and other forms of abuse and intimidation.
More advice and information
- Read more about the Harmful Digital Communications Act
- Wellington defamation lawyer Ali Romanos maintains a website dedicated to defamation law as it applies in New Zealand.
- Wellington barrister and media law specialist, Stephen Price has produced a good general explanation of defamation law in NZ.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.
- Email [email protected]
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282