A new joint development between Netsafe and some of the world's leading social media companies is set to provide Kiwis with safer online experiences.
As of today, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Google (YouTube), TikTok, Amazon (Twitch) and Twitter have signed into existence the Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms.
This agreement looks to create a benchmark for online safety in the Asia Pacific region, making sure organisations have clear safety standards and can work around a framework. It obligates tech companies to actively reduce harmful content on their relevant digital platforms and services in New Zealand.
Netsafe CEO Brent Carey says cooperation between the six companies and various stakeholders has been essential in establishing an online safety framework for New Zealanders. This is something Netsafe believes is much needed considering the current online climate.
"Digital platforms kept everyone connected during Covid, but unfortunately there was a spike of more than 25% of harmful content reports. There are too many kiwis being bullied, harassed, and abused online, which is why the industry has rallied together to protect users," says Carey.
"The reports provide an opportunity for consumers to protect their interests and the public to scrutinise action being taken by a company if it fails to meet its commitments under the Code."
NZTech will take over the establishment and administration of the Code, and CEO Graeme Muller says that it will provide solid online principles to follow and hopes that organisations will continue to work towards creating safer online environments.
"This unique collaborative approach toward creating a better digital environment for all Kiwi's is just the start and as more organisations join and sign up to the Code we will be in a much better place as a country to ensure our experience on the Internet is as safe as possible."
He says the Code was put through extensive feedback and consultation processes to create the best possible outcomes, and it can continue to grow and adapt in line with new online changes.
"The Code will be a living document, it can be amended biannually and we hope the governance framework will enable it to evolve alongside local conditions, while at the same time respecting the fundamental rights of freedom of expression," he says.
"We are constantly finding responsive ways to keep pace with the potential threats posed by technology and bridge regulatory gaps. Everyone deserves to be safe online and industry codes are one means to support that to happen."
In line with the new announcement, a spokesperson for TikTok says, "TikTok welcomes the introduction of the Aotearoa Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms. As the first of its kind in New Zealand, the code provides an inclusive, self-regulatory framework committing signatories to meet crucial safety and transparency outcomes for tackling harmful online content."