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Netsafe study of online behaviour reveals big jump in revenge porn, physical threats during lockdown period

The nationwide lockdown this year created a perfect storm for trouble online.

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The organisation wants more done to support people receiving threats online. Source: 1 NEWS

That's according to Netsafe which has found there were sharp rises in the most serious kinds of digital harm, including physical threats towards people and what's commonly referred to as revenge porn.

A study by the non-profit online safety organisation found that males (46 per cent), those aged between 40 and 49 (59 per cent) and New Zealand Europeans (44 per cent), were most likely to have suffered online harm during or after the lockdown period this year.

Of the people who said they'd suffered harm in the last year, the rate in the lockdown quarter was double what it was in the other quarters, Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker told 1 NEWS.

“Digital technology helped people remain connected, but human beings aren’t accustomed to being at home and inside for prolonged periods, and unfortunately, this combined to create a perfect storm for trouble online,” he said.

According to Netsafe, comparing the lockdown period to the same time in 2019, it was found scam reports were up 74 per cent.

It was also noted that sextortion was up 35 per cent, romance scams 69 per cent, intimidation 45 per cent and the supply and distribution of objectionable material 66 per cent.

Netsafe says the support some people need isn't available under the Harmful Digital Communications Act and work needs to be done on the legislation around it.

“I think the Harmful Digital Communications Act does a pretty good job of what it was meant to do but what we are seeing is as people come to us looking for support under that act that there are things that act doesn’t help them with.

“Unfortunately, those are quite often at the very serious end of harm, so we think there has to be a look at some of the legislation around the act and directly supporting people in those situations,” Croker told 1 NEWS.