New Zealand Law Society - Netsafe is harmful digital communications Approved Agency

Netsafe is harmful digital communications Approved Agency

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Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced that NetSafe has been appointed as the "Approved Agency" under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015.

The Approved Agency is appointed under section 7 of the Act. Its role includes advising on steps people can take to resolve a problem, investigating and attempting to resolve complaints where harm has been caused, and providing education and advice about online safety and conduct.

Ms Adams says the 2016 Budget includes $16.4 million of new funding to support the Harmful Digital Communications Act, including operation of the Approved Agency.

Netsafe says it is an independent non profit organisation, with its "sole purpose" being to promote confident, safe, and responsible use of online technologies.

It was founded as the Internet Safety Group in September 1998, was incorporated as a society in April 2001 and changed its name to NetSafe in June 2008. 

Governance is by a six-person board, chaired by IT lawyer Rick Shera.

Ms Adams says it is expected that NetSafe will start as the Approved Agency in November 2016.

"Once the Approved Agency is up and running, people can apply to the District Court for mandatory orders in relation to any complaints they have been unable to resolve through the Approved Agency," she says.

"The court will be able to make a range of orders, including requiring material to be taken down. Failing to obey the court orders will be punishable as a criminal offence with a penalty of up to six months in prison or a $5,000 fine for individuals, and fines of up to $20,000 for companies."