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Netsafe, NZTech and global tech companies act to tackle digital harms
Netsafe, NZTech and five of the world’s leading technology companies have collaborated
on a joint agreement that sets a benchmark for online safety in the Asia Pacific region.
Today, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Google (YouTube), TikTok, Twitch
and Twitter have signed into existence the Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for
Online Safety and Harms.
The first-of-its-kind Code obligates tech companies to actively reduce harmful content
on their relevant digital platforms and services in New Zealand.
Netsafe new CEO Brent Carey says the Code is a self-regulatory effort that has been
designed with input from civil society groups, interest groups and will be monitored by a
new multi-stakeholder governance group.
“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
Carey says cooperation between the six companies and various stakeholders has been
essential in establishing an online safety framework for New Zealanders.
Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech, New Zealand’s peak technology association which will take
over the establishment and administration of the Code said, “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.”
The Code builds on solid online safety principles from New Zealand, Australia, and the EU,
including bringing to New Zealand the same regime on mis and disinformation currently in
operation in Australia.
Carey says the framework outlines the collective and voluntary commitments to safer online
spaces. On top of being closely evaluated, each company will publish annual reports about
their progress in adherence with the code, be subject to sanctions for breaches of their Code
commitments and take part in a public complaint’s mechanism.
“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
Feedback on the code was gathered over an extensive 10-week consultation period with civil
society, government, and the public, collecting a wide range of feedback for consideration.
Graeme Muller said, “The Code will be a living document, it can be amended biennially, 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.”
The Code coincides with New Zealand’s Netsafety Week which takes place from 25 to29 July.
The overarching theme of the week “Diversity Matters, Online Safety Done Together” focuses
on understanding different communities’ online safety perspectives and encouraging
respectful relationships online.
“We continue to work with our stakeholders to grow awareness of the Code and welcome
more tech companies, including more Kiwi companies, to become a signatory of the Code.”
“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. Ultimately addressing these important issues
while protecting freedom of expression, will require a whole of society approach and we think
this Code is a step in the right direction.”
Netsafe is an independent non-profit organisation with an unrelenting focus on online safety.
We keep people of all ages safe online by providing free support, advice and education. Visit
netsafe.org.nz for free resources and to report incidents of online harm.
About NZ Tech
NZTech is a not-for-profit, non-governmental (NGO) membership funded organisation. We
represent 20 tech communities and over 1000 members from across the New Zealand
technology landscape who collectively employ more than 10 percent of the workforce.
NZTech’s mission is to support a values-led, nationally connected tech community that is
collectively lifting equity, sustainability and prosperity for all in Aotearoa, by creating jobs,
export growth and impact through tech for good.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Nik Hancock: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Over the past years, we’ve invested heavily in policies and systems that are designed to remove violative content, raise authoritative information, and reduce the spread of harmful misinformation. We also hold ourselves to the highest level of accountability and transparency. In Q2 2022, YouTube removed over 3.8 million videos for violating our Community Guidelines, 91% of which were first flagged by machines rather than humans. Our work here is ongoing and we will continue to refine and invest, while also consulting with Government, industry bodies and non-profits to protect the YouTube community. We look forward to continuing our constructive approach having worked with Netsafe for over 15 years to consult across industry issues,” says Ross Young, Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy,” Google New Zealand.
“We’ve long supported calls for regulation to address online safety and have been working
collaboratively with industry, government, and safety organisations to advance the Code. This is an
important step in the right direction and will further complement the government’s work on content
regulation in the future. We’re looking forward to working with the stakeholders to ensure the Code
sets in place a framework to keep Kiwis safe across multiple platforms by preventing, detecting, and
responding to harmful online content.” – Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy for Meta, New
Zealand and Pacific Islands
“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.” – Tik Tok spokesperson