SunLive – Netsafe predicts influx of online harm incidents


New Zealand’s online safety organization expects calls to its helpline to skyrocket as the country begins its second weekend at Alert Level 4.

“Everyone uses the Internet more frequently during this time,” says Martin Cocker, CEO of Netsafe. “The more we use the Internet, the more we are exposed to the risks and challenges online. “

Cocker says being online keeps us in touch with our loved ones and ensures that the community can continue to learn, work and have fun, “we also know this is a time when criminals are trying. to exploit individuals and a time when frustrations spill over online. “

Netsafe is already seeing an increase in incident reports, as was the case during the level 4 alert lockdown in New Zealand from March to April 2020.

When this period was compared to the same period a year ago, reports of scams were up 74%, sextorsions 35% and romance scams 69%.

During last year’s lockdown, Cocker said Netsafe had been inundated with requests from people needing help with a wide range of issues, including online bullying, misinformation, threatening behavior and speech. of hate.

“As the country strives to eradicate Covid-19, Netsafe is helping people stay safe and eliminate online damage from their lives. Enough is happening right now without people being bullied, scammed or harassed. “

Reports to Netsafe regarding bullying during the 2020 lockdown have increased by 45% and the provision and distribution of objectionable content by 66%.

Netsafe’s 2020 lockdown research reveals that the number of people facing unwanted digital communications – including threatened or intimidated – has increased.

In the three months leading up to the lockdown, of those who experienced unwanted digital communications, 45% were encouraged to try and hurt themselves. This percentage rose to 65 percent within three months.

Likewise, 41% received offensive comments about their lifestyle or religious beliefs before the lockdown, but that figure rose to 54% during or after the period.

Netsafe is available seven days to provide expert advice on incidents and can provide advice on how the harmful digital communications law may apply to their situation.

The service is free, confidential and non-judgmental – translation options are also available. People can call 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or visit for self-help advice.

In the last lockdown, demand for Netsafe’s online resources increased 167% as people sought advice on what they could do on their own to have more positive experiences and protect their personal information.

Netsafe also saw a 155% increase in the number of parents seeking help with their family’s issues online. Cocker says this time around a range of tools have been added to Netsafe’s resource stable to get whānau back to home schooling and kids to spend more time on screens.

The Online Safety Parent Toolkit can be used as a stand-alone resource or in conjunction with the TikTok Family Safety Toolkit and its Whānau Online Gaming Toolkit.

In addition, Netsafe’s Staying Safe online guide can be downloaded. The easy-to-understand manual helps everyone, including the elderly, have better online experiences on many platforms and provides tips for avoiding scams and dealing with bullying and harassment.

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