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Community life

Cyberbullying: Protections against online/digital harassment

Complaining to NetSafe, the cyberbullying complaints agency

How do I make a complaint to NetSafe?

You can complain to NetSafe by using their online report form, at www.netsafe.org.nz. To report from their home page, click on “Report Online Incidents”, or phone them on 0800 NETSAFE (638 723).

What can NetSafe do if I complain to them?

Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, ss 6(2), 8

NetSafe’s role, as the cyberbullying complaints agency, is to investigate your complaint and to try to resolve it through advice, negotiation, mediation and persuasion. It must take account of the digital communication principles (see above, “The 10 principles for online/digital behaviour”) and also the right to freedom of expression in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

NetSafe doesn’t have any powers to make binding legal decisions or order people to do things. For example, it can’t order people to take down online posts or pictures, and it can’t impose any penalties like fines or compensation.

NetSafe can decide not to investigate your complaint if it thinks that what you’re complaining about doesn’t breach any of the digital communication principles, or that what you’re complaining about is trivial or unlikely to cause anyone serious distress.

What can I do if complaining to NetSafe doesn’t work?

In that case you can apply to the District Court for various orders, including “takedown” orders (see the next section).

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Harassment and bullying

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Victims Information


Phone: 0800 650 654
Email: victimsinfo@justice.govt.nz

This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Human Rights Commission


Phone: 0800 496 877
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz

The Human Rights Commission website has information about your rights if you’re sexually or racially harassed:

“Sexual harassment” guide

Racial harassment

Harassment and bullying in the workplace


The Worksafe New Zealand website has information and guidance about workplace bullying:

YouthLaw Aotearoa


Phone: 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884 529)
Email: nzyouthlaw@gmail.com

YouthLaw provides free legal advice for young people throughout New Zealand. Their website provides great information for young people about the law around harassment and bullying.

Ministry of Justice

Applying for a Harmful Digital Communications Order

This has information about applying to a District Court judge for a “take down” order or other type of action when you’ve suffered serious emotional distress because of cyberbullying:


Help with online bullying, abuse and harassment


Go to this website for free and confidential help if you’ve been bullied, abused or harassed online. NetSafe has been appointed by the government to be a free information service and complaints agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

NZ Police


This police webpage lists a number of phone counselling services and websites that can help.

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