Operating digitally became the new norm coming out of COVID-19 and with this brought to light the impacts of the digital divide.
In 2021, Digital NZ conducted the User Insights Pacific Peoples Report which found that 1 in 5 Pacific peoples between the ages of 16 and 65 either declined to use a computer, have not passed generic computer-use, or have no computer experience. This report highlighted a "knowledge gap" regarding digital safety among Pacific Peoples, explaining their distrust in the digital world due to concerns about the accessibility of their personal information resulting in low digital engagement.
In July 2023, ECG was approached to design and conduct 'talanoa' for a group of Pacific peoples regarding online security. ECG provided the engagement for Ghost Partners (a design agency) to gather feedback in order to develop information, tools, and support networks to help people better prepare for, manage, and recover from cyber security crimes. This information would contribute to a new cyber security website for CERT NZ, a government agency focused on cyber security.
ECG was excited to be apart of this opportunity which enabled Pacific voices to share insights and experiences raising issues with online security knowledge and access. The group spoke of first hand experiences with assisting elders, whānau and family with digital challenges including navigating social media apps or screening emails and messages to see if it is safe to engage with.
For young Pacific sole traders, the need for their businesses to access support to keep on top of protecting their business data and privacy was crucial. They found these cyber threats to be creative, more frequent and easy to fall into. Other themes in the talanoa included the uneasiness about the advancement of AI (artificial intelligence), the importance of resources in different Pacific languages to improve accessibility and ensuring web content is simple and visually pleasing.
Supporting whānau, especially elders in strengthening digital literacy skills to protect them from any cyber threat was important and supported the "User Insights" report which found that older people were more likely to trust online information if it was shared in their language and their family members taught them how to navigate the digital world.
We look forward to seeing how Pacific communities use the "Own Your Online" website to protect themselves from cyber threats and strengthen digital literacy for New Zealanders relating to cyber security.