Harmful digital communications

Cyberbullying and other modern forms of harassment and intimidation can have a devastating impact on people, especially children and teenagers.

Harmful digital communications can take a variety of forms. They include when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours about you
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos of you.

To address this problem the District Court has a new civil process that will provide a speedy, efficient and relatively cheap legal avenue for dealing with serious or repeated harmful digital communications.

The court will deal with cases where it’s alleged someone has or will suffer harm, and will look into whether there’s been a serious breach, a threatened serious breach or a repeated breach of one or more of the 10 communication principles outlined in the Act.

The Act also contains a number of safeguards to balance reduction of harm with people’s rights to free speech.

Apply for a Harmful Digital Communications order

If you have been affected by some form of harm that has or will cause you serious emotional distress then you can apply to the courts for a harmful digital communications order.

Find out more about applying to the court

Respond to an application for a harmful digital communications order

If you have received a letter from the court telling you somebody has applied for court orders to be made against you or that an interim order is in place then you will have an opportunity to respond and be heard on that application.

Find out more about responding to an application or interim order

What you can do as an online content host

Safe harbour provisions have been put in place to protect online content hosts. If you own a website or app that people can post content on then you may be legally responsible for their actions.

Find out more about the safe harbour process

Unauthorised posting of intimate visual recordings

If someone has shared intimate recordings, images or videos of you online without your consent, they can be charged with a criminal offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015. If the individual is found guilty, they may be fined up to $50,000 or sentenced to a maximum of 2 years in prison.

During the case, the judge can make an order for the intimate visual recording to be taken down from where it has been posted online.

To report an incident of unauthorised posting of intimate visual recordings, please contact your nearest Police station.

Find out more about how to contact your nearest Police station(external link)