New figures released today show an unprecedented 550 per cent increase in investigations into online child sexual abuse material by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The ACMA conducted more than 7,600 individual investigations, based upon complaints in 2013/14—a dramatic jump on last year’s figures.
The increase is a result of a rising number of complaints to the ACMA, coupled with the ACMA’s deep commitment to pursuing the removal of such material. All investigated material was referred to either Australian police for action or through the international community of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) for rapid law enforcement notification and take-down in the host or production country. The vast majority of the content was taken down within three days.
‘These investigations—and more importantly, the removal of the content—takes place as a direct result of reports to the ACMA Hotline from members of the public, law enforcement and our international partners,’ said ACMA’s Deputy Chairman and cybersafety spokesman, Richard Bean.
‘There is a growing awareness that this material is simply unacceptable —and that there are increasingly effective mechanisms in place for its removal.
‘We often talk about how every such image removed from the internet helps make the internet a safer place for everyone—and this is true. However, of equal importance, is the prevention of the re-victimisation of the children involved.
‘It’s a sobering fact that many of those who have been abused in the past have to live with the knowledge that the evidence of their abuse may be available online for years or decades,’ he added.
An ongoing concerted global effort by the public, hotlines, law enforcement and industry is required to help stop dissemination of this material over the internet and the ACMA has been at the forefront of this effort. To further this objective, the ACMA and Australian Federal Police (AFP) are co-sponsoring the invitation-only inaugural regional cooperation forum later this month on Combating Child Exploitation Material Online (CCEMO) for law enforcement, Internet Hotlines in the Asia-Pacific region, industry and NGOs.
The forum will take place at the ACMA’s offices from 29-31 July 2014. More information can be found here: www.acma.gov.au/CCEMOforum
Offensive or illegal online content should be reported to the ACMA Hotline: www.acma.gov.au/hotline. If you are aware that a child or other person is in immediate danger, or is at risk of serious harm, call the police on Triple Zero (000).
For more information, please see the backgrounder and infographic below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 37/2014 - 18 July
The ACMA plays a crucial role in the eradication of child sexual abuse material from the internet.
The ACMA Hotline for reporting offensive and illegal online content has become a frontline mechanism in Australia for combating this material.
The ACMA has strong take-down powers for such content hosted in Australia (with 100 per cent compliance across the 14 year life of the scheme).
It has formal relationships with all Australian law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Federal Police and Crime Stoppers Australia.
The ACMA is highly effective at pursuing take-down and law enforcement notification for overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material through our relationships with more than 50 INHOPE partner hotlines around the world.
Nearly all child sexual abuse material reported through INHOPE channels is removed within three days.
Rise in investigations
Following public awareness-raising activities conducted by the ACMA this year, the Hotline has seen a significant rise in complaints from members of the public about child sexual abuse material encountered online. These activities have included the launch of ACMA Hotline branding, participation in National Child Protection Week and the formalisation of substantial new agreements with Australian law enforcement agencies and Crime Stoppers Australia.
The extraordinary rise in investigative outcomes (an increase of 550 per cent, with 99.5 per cent completed within two working days) has been driven by a combination of the rise in complaints and the ACMA’s commitment to achieve operational leverage.
This commitment included the introduction of new investigative software solutions in 2013 that has enabled the small team responsible for undertaking these often complex and challenging investigations to dramatically improve outcomes.