National | Artificial Intelligence

Māori tech solutions are key to helping those scammed online

Seven per cent of Māori reported incidents of their social media accounts being hacked, more than double the rate among the general population of Aotearoa.

A recent study has revealed that Māori are at a higher risk of falling victim to online scams and security breaches compared to non-Māori.

New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) finding raises concern among advocates of Māori data sovereignty.

IT expert and Māori AI, data and merging tech ethicist Karaitiana Taiuru says young Māori women, in particular, are frequently targeted in online spaces.

“I’ve heard of Māori and Pasifika teenage girls being exploited for pictures, and the threat is that ‘you need to pay us money, or else we are going to send these pictures to your mum, your dad, and all of your whanau and communities’,” he says.

The CERT NZ study demonstrates a stark contrast, with 7% of Māori reporting incidents of their social media accounts being hacked, more than double the rate among the general population of Aotearoa.

Taiuru emphasises that the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence poses a significant threat.

“AI can scan your Facebook profile.

‘More victimised’ after making complaint

This means AI can know who your family is, your friends, what you think, and what you do, and use your own language and become very sophisticated.”

In the pursuit of viable solutions to safeguard the Māori community against these threats.

Taiuru firmly believes Māori-based tech solutions can work.

“We know the current solutions don’t work for Māori and I believe Pasifika as well.

I’ve had people ring me up and contact me, quite upset, and say ‘this happened to me’ and say ‘I went to Netsafe or I went to the police and I actually feel more victimised now. I’ve gone through the humiliation of hearing my name mispronounced. They misspell my name. They don’t understand the tikanga or the cultural values’.”

Taiuru is advocating for government intervention, urging the incoming government to take cues from the US.

He points to the actions of US President Joe Biden, who has pushed for tech companies to disclose what type of artificial intelligence they’re using to help them with work.

“He’s forcing all tech companies now to disclose their AI and their algorithms, which will end up making the US a lot safer and would be able to combat a lot of those issues.

“I’m hoping whoever the new government will or the new minister will be will take that on board.”

The findings of the research are being showcased in an exhibition held in Auckland as part of NZ Cyber Smart Week.