People are contacting Netsafe in record numbers with stories of online harassment, cyberbullying and racism and scams.
Quarter 2 for Netsafe in the lead up to Christmas is usually a quieter period for our helpline, but not so this quarter. In this, the last quarterly report for 2023, it’s been a case of seven months this year having been the highest number of “reporting of incidents months” to Netsafe.
In quarter 1 (July-September) scams comprised of 18.7% of reports to Netsafe, this figure grew to 20.7% in quarter 2.
This quarter we have released a number of benchmark reports which paints a picture of the state of online harm in New Zealand.
During Fraud Awareness week (held on 12-18 November) with the focus on investment scams, we reflected on the Global Anti-Scam Alliance’s (GASA) recent research which indicates New Zealanders lost $2.05 billion to scams in the last 12 months. Here is the link to the full “State of Scams in New Zealand” report.
In December Netsafe released our 2023 state of online harm population research for New Zealand. Our research shows Māori, New Zealanders under the age of 30, those who are neurodiverse, and LGBTQIA+ community members, are at the forefront of digital harm and are being attacked online more than any other group. You can read the Annual Population report here, the Māori Population report here, the Online Hate Speech Report here or the trended results here.
This quarter saw our team work hard to create detailed briefings to incoming government officials and ministers on pressing online safety issues. See our Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMS) here. Each briefing is also linked in the Submissions and Advocacy section at the bottom of this Quarterly Report. By directly engaging with decision-makers, we aim to influence policies that safeguard the digital world for all. Please get behind some of our requests to Ministers and alert policy makers to our policy positions contained in our BIMS.
Finally Netsafe is excited to announce a new international collaboration with Save the Children, Australia ChildFund Australia, Netsafe and Meta. Together we are working to address online safety issues in the Pacific by responding to an awareness gap in the region of what and where to report. Additional funding will build on this work and support the dedicated national helpline function in PNG to receive reports about online safety concerns, including bullying, grooming, child sexual abuse material and other illegal content.
Between October – December 2023, Netsafe received 6,926 reports overall.
Top taxonomy descriptions included:
Phishing • Harassment • Non-existent product • Sextortion
PERSONAL HARM COMPLAINTS
SCAM & FRAUD REPORTS
Reports by age group
Reports by region
Reports by gender
Personal Harm Reporting
Reported breaches under the Harmful Digital Communications Act*
Between October and December 2023, Netsafe received 1,371 personal harm reports. The top personal harm categories under the Harmful Digital Communication Act for the quarter were:
* Cases often involve breaches of more than one communication principle
Scam and Fraud Snapshot
Between October – December 2023, Netsafe received 813 reports with losses totalling:
Education, Partnership & Impact
Online harm prevention and public awareness campaign activity:
On 11th October, Paddy Gower Has Issues featured Netsafe on the topic of ‘Sextortion’ and the alarming rise in cases of explicit photo-based blackmail. Netsafe shared how to spot this crime, its impact on victims and explained some of the innovative tools available to help people take back control of intimate images online. Our sextortion education campaign saw us stem the rise in harm reports.
In November 2degrees launched their First Phones campaign which Netsafe supported. It is an unboxing experience taking kids and parents through a 10-step programme of good and bad things about smartphones: “Good Tings” website. Netsafe will be building an online Micro Learn version of these materials in February 2024.
In December our Youth Action Squad launched their next youth-led micro learning resource. Focused on Digital Footprint for Years 12-13, the Prepping for Work online resource is packed with tips from the engagement with Human Resource professionals that YAS conducted. It covers social media red flags, how to set up a professional networking profile, and a six-step digital brand clean-up checklist.
At the end of 2023 Netsafe reviewed a pilot of work by Hōhepa Canterbury which included a literature review and resources designed to help young people with intellectual disabilities to be safer online. We now host their Digi Citizens Framework on our website. With the pilot complete, we’ll work with them to create further easy-to-use tools for families and their support teams in this space. EasyRead versions (created by makeiteasy.org.nz) of the documents will be available in early 2024.
Submissions and Advocacy
Netsafe responds to public consultations or may otherwise advocate on issues relevant to our work. This quarter’s submissions can be found via the following links:
Netsafe is an independent non-profit organisation with an unrelenting focus on online safety. We keep people safe online by providing free support, advice and education. Visit netsafe.org.nz for useful resources or call 0508 638 723 seven days a week for help with an online incident.
Find out more at www.netsafe.org.nz
The data in this report represents the data available at the end of the quarter. Information related to the reports made to Netsafe reflect high-level trends and does not include easily identifiable information about specific reports/incidents.
If you have any queries about the information in this report, please email [email protected]