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NetSafe says industry support last link on cyberbullying


NetSafe says industry support last link in cyberbullying proposals

Auckland, 15 August 2012

NetSafe is calling on the ICT community to support the processes recommended by the Law Commission in the briefing paper “Harmful Digital Communications: The adequacy of the current sanctions and remedies”.

The review recommends that complaints about offensive content should go initially to an “approved agency” which would advise complainants and attempt to achieve resolution by a process of negotiation, mediation and persuasion

The review suggests that NetSafe should perform that role. Unresolved complaints would then proceed to a new tribunal.

“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 but recognises they will not be effective in isolation. It notes that the law needs to be understood by citizens, constantly enforced, and its remedies meaningfully applied.

Martin Cocker of NetSafe says this is about finding an internet age solution to an internet age problem.

“Jurisdictional and technological challenges mean that aggressive enforcement of many cyber offences is often costly and ineffective. A greater number of victims of harmful digital communications will access meaningful resolutions through a system that can resolve issues quickly and cheaply.”

The briefing paper also recognises both the particular vulnerability of young people, and the limitations of legal processes in combatting issues that arise between them. It makes recommendations for amendments to the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) for schools to include specific requirements for effective anti-bullying programmes.

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

- ENDS -

About NetSafe –

NetSafe is an independent non-profit organisation that promotes confident, safe, and responsible use of online technologies. NetSafe promotes cybersafety and security and the concept of digital citizenship by educating and supporting individuals, organisations and industry on a range of issues.

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