Because of the global nature of the internet, national and international co-operation is a key requirement to help combat illegal content, including online child abuse material.
The ACMA actively liaises with regulatory and law enforcement bodies within Australia and overseas to develop cooperative arrangements for preventing and reporting online child abuse material, including:
- International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE)
- Virtual Global Taskforce
- Australian Federal Police
The ACMA hotline is a member of INHOPE, the International Association of Internet Hotlines. The ACMA became a member of INHOPE in 2000, the same year the online content co-regulatory scheme was introduced into Australian legislation.
INHOPE represents Internet Hotlines from around the world, supporting them in responding to reports of online child abuse material. INHOPE’s mission is to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet and protect young people from illegal uses of the internet.
Working to ensure swift action is taken in responding to reports of online child abuse content in the countries in which the material is associated, INHOPE provides a forum through which Hotlines are able to exchange information for dealing with specific complaints and enhances existing arrangements with law enforcement agencies.
When online child abuse content is not hosted within Australia, the ACMA will report the content to an INHOPE Hotline member. The Hotline operating in the country in which the content is hosted will act in accordance with the legislation of their country and refer the matter to law enforcement within their jurisdiction.
If child abuse material is not hosted in a country with INHOPE membership, the ACMA refers such content to an Australian police force.
The ACMA also reports monthly investigation outcomes directly to INHOPE.
Insafeis a European network of Awareness Centres promoting safe, responsible use of the Internet and mobile devices to young people. Co-funded by the Safer Internet Programme, their aims include empowering and protecting children online and raising awareness about illegal content and services, especially child sexual abuse material. Insafe has objectives and elements similar to the Australian co-regulatory scheme and the ACMA participates in the Safer Internet Day activities held each year.
The ACMA is a partner to the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) which is made up of police forces from around the world working together to fight online child abuse material. The VGT aims to deliver innovative crime prevention and crime reduction initiatives to prevent and deter individuals from committing on-line child abuse. The Australian Federal Police is a member of the VGT and in December 2009 assumed the responsibility as the VGT Chair and Secretariat for a three-year period. Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, National Manager of the AFP High Tech Crime Operations, is the current Chair.
The ACMA has a strong and long standing relationship with local and national Australian law enforcement including the Australian Federal Police (AFP) The relationship is mandated through legislation and underpinned by Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the agencies which establishes each agencies role and responsibilities with regard to the other and clarifies expectations. In addition to the formal arrangements between the ACMA and law enforcement, the relationships are enhanced through joint engagement in knowledge sharing and training events which may also involve international law enforcement.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations (CPO) team performs an investigative and coordination role within Australia for multijurisdictional and international online child sex exploitation matters. These matters include those from Australian State and Territory Police, government and non-government organisations, the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), international law enforcement agencies, Interpol and members of the public.
The ACMA notifies the AFP of child abuse material identified as being hosted outside Australia for actioning through Interpol. However, the ACMA has a special arrangement with the AFP whereby content consisting of child abuse material that appears to be hosted in a country with an INHOPE member hotline is instead notified to that hotline via the INHOPE network for referral to enforcement agencies in the host country, if appropriate.
The AFP also have legislated powers to seek the removal of Australian hosted illegal content and similar to the ACMA, work in partnership with Internet Service Providers and Internet Content Hosts and providers in the battle against the sexual exploitation of children online.