Information on applying for a Harmful Digital Communications order

Wed 11 Jan 2017

The Ministry of Justice has updated their website with new information about justice processes related to the Harmful Digital Communications ...

The Ministry of Justice has updated their website with new information about justice processes related to the Harmful Digital Communications Act. This includes information on how to apply for a Harmful Digital Communications order.

The Harmful Digital Communications Act came into effect in 2015. It introduced measures to address damaging online communications, offer solutions to victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

The Ministry of Justice webpage describes harmful digital communications, which include "when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos."
People needing a harmful digital communication addressed first need to contact NetSafe to seek assistance. NetSafe is the Government Approved Agency responsible for providing advice and support to people affected by harmful digital communications under the Act.

If Netsafe is unable to resolve the issue, the Act allows victims to apply to the District Court for a Harmful Digital Communications Order. The webpage briefly describes the new District Court civil process to deal with serious or repeated harmful digital communications:

"The court will deal with cases where it’s alleged someone has or will suffer harm, and will look into whether there’s been a serious breach, a threatened serious breach or a repeated breach of one or more of the 10 communication principles outlined in the Act."

Victims, parents or guardians of victims, the Police or a professional leader of a registered school or delegate can apply for an order.

Police can also apply directly to the court (without going through Netsafe) when a communication threatens a person’s safety.

The Chief Coroner may also apply for a takedown order about material relating to suicide, if publication is prohibited by the Coroners Act.

The website also includes information on responding to an application for a harmful digital communications order and what you can do as an online content host.

For more information about the Act and Netsafe's role as the approved agency, see Justice Minister Amy Adams speech at the launch of Netsafe as the approved agency and the previous NZFVC story Harmful Digital Communications Bill passes second reading.

Related media

Justice figures show surge in harmful digital communication charges, NZ Herald, 28.09.2018

New service shows cyberbullying not just a problem for kids, Press Release: NetSafe, Scoop, 22.12.2016

Cyber bullying prosecution figures released by Justice Minister Amy Adams, Stuff, 10.11.2016

Image: Pixabay