Funding boost to tackle harmful online content

By Tema Hemi

Approximately 7 in 10 teens in New Zealand have experienced at least some type of unwanted digital communication over the past year.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced a funding boost today aimed at tackling harmful content online which will include establishing a dedicated team to find, stop and prosecute online offenders. It is modeled on the successful unit that deals with child sexual exploitation material. 

While the issue has been on many people's radars in recent times major concerns are still prevalent as harmful online content and spam continue targeting the nation's youth. 

The most common types of unwanted digital communications were being contacted by a stranger; and accidentally seeing inappropriate content online.

Members of the public in Wellington city had their own experiences to share which impacted their children online;

A young Wellington mother says, "Its homework being set and as they all do, they want to google to find the information. And someones put a bug in the system or something like that and it come with, well in this case unfortunately it was pornography."

Another Wellington woman says, "A lot of its just um...some of it is racism. Other peoples Facebook post have come up."

A local Wellington man says, "I have seen a bit of bullying on social media and i think that should be regulated."

Minister Martin says New Zealand's ability to find, stop and stamp out terrorist and violent extremist content online has also received a boost of $17 million.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "We will set up a dedicated team to find, stop and prosecute violent extremist content online. We'll strengthen our laws to ensure we can swiftly respond to violent extremist material this is work we'll be doing in the longer term."

The Government investment will;

  • Double the investigative, forensic, intelligence and prevention work of the Department of Internal Affairs, with a focus on violent extremist content online.
  • Bolster the Chief Censor's current work to assess and make fast decisions about harmful content.
  • Strengthen our laws to ensure we can swiftly respond to violent extremist material. 
  • Look at how online providers should be regulated as part of the media.

Ardern  says, "We saw yet again last week how those with hateful idealogy have and will continue to use online platforms as a weapon. That is what the Christchurch call aims to achieve across boarders."

Minister Martin says in conclusion, "the ease and speed with which the March 15 terrorist attack spread online showed we need to improve our systems to respond just as swiftly."