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Netsafe shines spotlight on safety

Sean Lyons, Guest Post. 02 October 2018, 7:39 am
Netsafe shines spotlight on safety

Online safety is quickly coming to the forefront of conversations around digital services and products here in New Zealand. Public discussion around current approaches to address harm also continues to grow, and personal accounts of experiencing online harm are being highlighted by media and related sectors. More than ever before sectors, organisations and people outside of the traditional online safety community are joining the discussion with their own unique insights and experiences. 

A spotlight is being shone on online harm - and along with it, discussion around societal expectations of how we behave online.

Ultimately, we should all be looking for ways to provide protection for people while maintaining balanced and respectful public discourse. However, the complexities of the problem and the intricacies of finding practical solutions means that approaches to address the problem needs careful consideration. Online safety is a space where many factors intersect and intertwine - wellbeing, education, technology, regulation, entertainment, industry and enforcement are just some of these.  

Conversations around online safety often revolve around what more can be done or who isn't doing enough, with the providers of the technology often finding themselves in the firing line. But keeping yourself safe online is not simply a case of permissions and passwords - it's a complex series of events and actions that can have far reaching repercussions for those involved, and can manifest themselves a long way from the platforms in which individuals may be engaging or sharing with others. If a safe online experience can be supported by the technology, then the technology industry itself has to be given the opportunity to be involved in the conversations around what online safety should look like, rather than simply be expected to fix the problems after they have appeared. The idea of "safety by design" in the products we all use must be central to the conversations that we all have as we strive to improve individuals online experiences. 

For this to happen, the online safety community needs to ensure that we are able to guide the technology industry based on our knowledge and experience to help make sure the technology responds to the changing safety needs of individuals. We need to clearly define where the issues lie in order to deliver the "safest" possible experience for those that use the next generation of online tools and services. We all need to talk more.

One of the largest meetings of those involved in these intersecting fields is Netsafe's 2018 Trans-Tasman Online Safety Conference being held in Auckland later this month. The conference includes local and international speakers covering some of the biggest topics in online safety right now.

A post-conference statement will be produced from the discussions being held and the expertise being shared. Our hope is that the statement will capture a large portion of the issues, challenges and solutions identified by the conference attendees.

Event Details

The Crossroads conference is co-hosted by Netsafe and the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner and tickets are available now. We encourage anyone who has an interest in the conversation, issues and solutions around online harm to join us at the conference. 


Conference Keynote Speakers

  • Rachel Madden - Google, Public Policy and Government Relations Analyst (USA)
  • Anja Dinhopl - Research Manager, Facebook (USA)
  • Tessy Ojo - The Diana Awards (UK)
  • Justin Patchin - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (USA)
  • Shamubeel Eaqub - Economist and Author (NZ)
  • Michael Berson - Professor and Chair, Department of Teaching and Learning at University of South Florida 
  • Dr Ilene Berson - Professor of Early Childhood, University of South Florida (USA)
  • Georgie Harman - CEO of Beyond Blue (AUS)



Sean Lyons is responsible for Netsafe's work in the Education sector, public education and strategic partnerships. Sean comes from a background in the IT industry and the education sector having spent part of his career as a classroom teacher and school leader. He is incredibly knowledgeable about online challenges and is responsible for Netsafe's programme to combat child sexual exploitation material.


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