INTERNET

The ORB – Fighting The Scammers

Friday 6 August 2010, 7:43AM
By Heather Roy
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WELLINGTON CITY

Hon Heather Roy speech to the launch of ‘The ORB’ (Online Reporting Button); New Zealand Police National HQ, Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington; Thursday, August 5 2010.

I am pleased to be here today to launch this important tool for combating online crime and other cyber-related incidents, and acknowledge the work of NetSafe in developing the Online Reporting Button (ORB).

I’d like to begin by thanking Police Commissioner Howard Broad for hosting this event, and thank the Police for their support of this initiative.

Not long ago, immersing oneself in the virtual world meant playing ‘Tetris’ on a Nintendo Game Boy. Sending an email put us at the cutting edge of technological advancement and the internet was a marvel of technological progress.

Times have changed, and so too has technology. Technology might once only have dreamed about is commonplace – and, as technology has advanced, so has our desire to remain up to date with it.

Now, more and more people have moved into the virtual world. Last month, research from Nielsen found that 1.8 million New Zealanders now interact via social networking sites. Over 80 percent of internet users have visited Facebook, and 70 percent have a Facebook profile. People who do not have a social networking profile are now a minority.

Social media now plays an important role in consumer purchasing decisions. Nielsen’s research showed that 44 percent of consumers have published online opinions – about products, services and brands – and 73 percent have read others’ opinions online. The internet broadens consumer options and increases the information available about anything we may wish to buy.

While these advances and our use of them is generally positive, however, our insatiable appetite for new technologies has come with a side-effect – predators now have more ways to find and interact with us, and have a new platform from which to run the illegal activities they undertake offline.

Online fraud is so commonplace that most people are at least vaguely aware of the ‘Nigerian ‘letter’ scam – and I’m sure everyone here today has received at least one phishing email at some time.

New Zealanders lose around $440 million to scams a year, and research commissioned by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs last year found that 15 percent of adults had been scammed or tricked out of money at some point. These are real victims who have lost money – sometimes their life-savings – to scammers.

That is why I’m so pleased that – with my Ministry of Consumer Affairs – I’ve been able to support The ORB.

Developed by New Zealand’s internet safety group NetSafe, The ORB allows consumers to report a full range of cyber offences and crimes – such as spam, objectionable material, online traders, privacy breaches, scams, computer system attacks, and offending against children. The ORB can be previewed at: www.theorb.org.nz/homepage.php.

These reports are then sent to the appropriate partner agency, those being: NZ Police, Customs, the Serious Fraud Office, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Commerce Commission, the Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection, and the DIA.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs will receive scam reports via The ORB. In essence, it is an additional resource to report scams to Scamwatch and will be dealt with in the same way as current scam reports.

NetSafe has done a fantastic job co-ordinating this project. I thank them for their time, resources and insight. The NetSafe team works incredibly hard to help protect and educate New Zealanders about internet safety.

The ORB has seen the collaboration of a number of organisations, many of which are represented here today. I thank these agencies for their participation – the Police, the Commerce Commission, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection, the Serious Fraud Office, the New Zealand Customs Service and the Department of Internal Affairs. I also acknowledge the Ministry of Education and Internet NZ for providing the funding for this project.

By working together, a variety of agencies can create a gateway to facilitate the reporting of online crime.

I believe The ORB is a world-first, as no other country has yet created a similar single point of reporting for such a wide range of cyber offences. In this respect, The ORB complements my ‘One Door’ policy.

‘One Door’ works towards providing a single portal that consumers can use to seek advice and assistance when things go awry. In the case of The ORB, my Ministry will take reports of online mass marketed scams, and feed them through to our Scamwatch service (www.scamwatch.govt.nz). The ORB offers an additional opportunity for consumers to report scams to us, where they may not have known where to turn to before.

So, without further ado, I would like to officially declare The ORB up and running – and ready to take its first report.

Thank you.