FutureFive NZ - NetSafe calls for industry support over cyberbullying

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NetSafe calls for industry support over cyberbullying

NetSafe is calling on the ICT community to support recommendations in finding an internet age solution to the internet age problem of cyberbullying.

Reports from the Law Commission’s ‘Harmful Digital Communications: The adequacy of the current sanctions and remedies’ proposed offensive content should be heard first by a governing body.

The findings suggest NetSafe should fill the role of the ‘approved agency’, advising that complaints about content could first be dealt with by a process of negotiation, mediation and persuasion.

“The co-operation of the ICT industry, and especially organisations that host content, will be critical to the success of this process,” says Martin Cocker, executive director at NetSafe.

“To mediate and negotiate solutions, the approved agency will need to be able to communicate with people whose anonymity is protected by service providers.”

The briefing paper recommends a series of law changes which they acknowledge will not be effective in isolation.

It notes that the law needs to be understood by citizens, constantly enforced, and its remedies meaningfully applied.

“Jurisdictional and technological challenges mean that aggressive enforcement of many cyber offences is often costly and ineffective,” Cocker says.

“A greater number of victims of harmful digital communications will access meaningful resolutions through a system that can resolve issues quickly and cheaply.”

Other topics in the report include the vulnerability of young people, and the limitations of legal processes in combating issues that arise between them.

“ICT has seriously complicated the bullying equation for schools and they would certainly benefit from more help from other stakeholders including the ICT industry,” Cocker says.

“It is easy to dismiss cyber bullying as insignificant bickering between young people, but we know that for some young people it can have serious consequences."

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