The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Consultation opens on regulatory reform for safer media and online platforms

1 June 2023

Proposed reforms to modernise the way media and online platforms are regulated in New Zealand have been announced today by Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department Internal Affairs. Consultation is now open on the proposals for New Zealanders to have their say.

Safer Online Services and Media Platforms proposes a new way to regulate providers, like social media and traditional media platforms, to reduce the exposure to harmful content by bringing all platforms into one cohesive framework with consistent safety standards.

“Child protection and consumer safety for media and online content is not as strong as it should be in Aotearoa. The existing regulatory system is decades old and predates media platforms such as social media,” says Suzanne Doig, General Manager Policy, Department of Internal Affairs.

“We need a modernised and consistent approach to the obligations of content providers and a much greater emphasis on the safety of children, young people, and vulnerable groups from illegal and unsafe content. We also need a system that is easier for users to navigate if they need to report harmful content.”

Key areas of the Safer Online Services and Media Platforms proposals include:

  • Extending regulation to cover all forms of media, like what is currently under the Broadcasting Act – including social media and other major online content providers.
  • Sector or industry organisations would be responsible for safety-based outcomes set through enforceable codes of practice.
  • Government continuing to take action against illegal content such as child exploitation and terrorist content. The threshold for illegal material will remain the same.
  • A focus on growing education and awareness to help consumers to keep themselves and their whānau safe.

“It’s important to get these proposals right. We want to create safer platforms while preserving essential rights like freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the benefits of media platforms. This is why public feedback on the review is essential.”

There are mechanisms in the proposal to protect freedom of expression: for example, a new regulator would have no powers of enforcement over individuals posting legal but unsafe content, and no powers over the editorial decisions of media platforms.

Targeted engagement with key regulatory organisations, media groups, government agencies and specialist interest groups took place in 2021 and 2022. This engagement sought to better understand current content harms in New Zealand and suggestions to improve the current system.

“Safer Online Services and Media Platforms would be a step towards building Aotearoa’s capacity to keep up with changing technologies. It’s time to create a system that better responds to and considers the needs of all New Zealanders.”

The Department will hold information sessions during consultation for the public to ask questions and clarify aspects in the proposals. For more information on the discussion document or to submit feedback, visit the consultation webpage. Submissions close on 31 July 2023, NZDT.


Media contact

Media Desk
Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639