Applying for a Harmful Digital Communications order

Before you can apply you must have had your complaint investigated by the approved agency (NetSafe (external link) ) and received an outcome that you may not be happy with then you are able to apply to the court for a harmful digital communications order.

Police will be able to apply directly to the court (without going through the approved agency) when a communication threatens a person’s safety. The Chief Coroner may apply for a takedown order about material relating to suicide, if publication is prohibited by the Coroners Act.

Making an application to the court

Any of the following can apply to the court if they have or know somebody who has been affected by some form of harassment or threats that has caused serious emotional distress;

  • The affected individual themselves
  • The parent or guardian of that individual
  • The Police, or
  • A professional leader of a registered school or delegate. If it’s on behalf of a child/student you will need to provide proof of consent with your application.

If you are applying for a harmful digital communications order fill in this form:
Note: If you are applying against multiple people then you can add an additional page with the name of each person or online content host and their contact details if you know them.

Application for a Harmful Digital Communications order [PDF, 709 KB]

If you want the court to change or remove a digital communications order to fill in this form:

Application to change or remove a harmful digital communications order [PDF, 568 KB]

Orders the court can make

The court will be able to order a broad range of remedies, including:

  • orders to take down material
  • cease-and-desist orders
  • orders to publish a correction, an apology or give the complainant a right of reply
  • orders to release the identity of the source of an anonymous communication
  • ordering name suppression for any parties.

Under this process, the court will order people or companies to do certain things – they won’t receive fines or prison terms. However, it is an offence to not comply with these new court orders; anyone found guilty may be sentenced to up to six months in prison or fined up to $5,000 (companies can be fined of up to $20,000).

What happens after you’ve applied

There are two processes that will take place your application has been accepted by the court.

Application On Notice:
  1. Application given to the court.
  2. The court accepts the application and gives it to a judge to consider.
  3. The courts then schedule a date and time for a hearing.
  4. A letter gets sent to you and the defendant telling you what the date and time for the hearing is (also known as a Notice of Proceedings).
    Note: the defendant also gets told what steps they can take to respond or object to the application prior to the hearing.
  5. At the hearing you and the defendant will have a chance to speak in front of the judge.
  6. The judge will either make a decision at the end of the hearing or tell you when you can expect to get a decision.
Application Without Notice:
  1. Application given to the court.
  2. The court accepts the application and gives it to a judge to consider either to issue and interim order, change the application to ‘on notice’ or decline the application.
    Note: If the judge changes the application to ‘on notice’ then the process will proceed as if that’s how the application was originally made.
  3. If an interim order has been made, the defendant will get the chance to respond and be heard on the application.
  4. A letter gets sent to you and the defendant telling you what the date and time for the hearing is (also known as a Notice of Proceedings).
    Note: at the same time you will be given a copy of the defendants notice to be heard and any supporting documents.
  5. At the hearing you and the defendant will have a chance to speak in front of the judge.
  6. The judge will either make a decision at the end of the hearing or tell you when you can expect to get a decision.