Introduction to Day one—Tuesday 29 July 2014
Chris Chapman, Chairman, ACMA
I am very pleased, and somewhat sobered, to be here today to open what promises to be an important regional event regarding the ongoing international fight against the distribution of child sexual abuse material online.
There is no doubt that the internet has been a game-changer for how we live, do business and communicate. Unfortunately, it has also been an enabler for how illegal online content is distributed, with a proliferation of child sexual abuse material available via online technologies.
The European Financial Coalition against the commercial sexual exploitation of children online estimates that more than one million images of children subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation are currently online. While according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, fifty-thousand new child sexual abuse images are added each year.
These are alarming figures to say the least—especially when you consider the children and illegal activities that underlie them.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. Our strategic goal is: ‘To make communications and media work in Australia’s public interest.’
One of our challenges regulating the internet is that it is a profoundly multi-jurisdictional medium that crosses international borders. Borders beyond which Australia’s public interest is likely of little concern.
Thus, any effective response for dealing with illegal online content in the national interest requires a level of international agreement as well as diverse partnerships with law enforcement agencies, industry bodies and non-government organisations.
It is these stakeholders who are gathered here today.
One of our key partners in this space is the Australian Federal Police and we are proud to be building on our longstanding formal relationship with them through our co-sponsorship of this event and upcoming key note presentation from Assistant Commissioner, Tim Morris.
Like our law enforcement partners, the ACMA is deeply committed to its part in this ongoing fight and I am delighted today to launch not only the forum, but announce that the ACMA has just signed two new formal agreements with Queensland Police and Victorian Police on the notification of online child sexual abuse material that concerns their states.
The signing of these two new agreements means the ACMA now has a ‘national spine’ along which to report a range of illegal content to all law enforcement agencies in Australia.
Significantly, and for the first time, this national reporting framework includes the Northern Territory and allows for notification to any jurisdiction in Australia where content may concern or is produced in that state or territory, as opposed to just where it may be hosted.
While the regulation of online content in Australia provides a suite of important community safeguards (for example: take-down powers for locally hosted prohibited content and optional end-user filters for use by Australian families), it also provides a highly effective triage mechanism for complaints about illegal content.
This triage aspect that is undertaken by hotlines allows law enforcement to put their resources and energy into saving children and catching those responsible for the distribution of illegal content, or worse, responsible for its production.
The ACMA Hotline for reports about offensive and illegal online content has been incredibly active over the last year as we’ve leveraged our operational expertise and effectiveness to deliver significant outcomes.
Without taking away from the thunder of the ACMA Hotline presentation later today, I’d like to note that the team investigated over 7,600 individual items of child sexual abuse material in the 2013-14 financial year. This is just under half of all investigations into child sexual abuse material conducted across the fourteen year life of the Hotline and a 550 per cent rise on the previous reporting year. Of these 7,600 investigations, over 99.5 per cent were completed within two days.
Over the next two days we will hear of equally impressive activities from an incredible range of presenters and panellists with a deep experience in online child protection matters.
This is not a conference as such, it is a forum for robust discussion and identification of innovative ideas for exchanging information and expertise.
It is an opportunity to discuss challenging topics in a setting where, while we may not always be on the same page in terms of the ‘how’, we are always on the same page in terms of the ‘why’. In other words, feel free to ask the hard questions.
Before we commence, I want to especially acknowledge our international guests who have travelled considerable distances to be here and share their expertise, including:
> Russel Chadwick, the Executive Director of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), who has travelled from the UK to be here
> Bindu Sharma from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, who has come from Singapore
> John Shehan, the Executive Director of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the USA
> Marie-Laure Lemineur from ECPAT International in Singapore
> Akio Kokubu, the Vice President of the Internet Association Japan; Mr Kokubu has also been accompanied by Norie Kawashima from the Internet Hotline Center Japan
> Sipho Risiba, the Chief Operations Officer, and Matome Ditlhake, Council Member, from the Film and Publication Board South Africa, and
> Sarah Smith, Technical Researcher from the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK.
I am also very happy to welcome our new and future INHOPE colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region:
> Krisda Tuprung, the Hotline Manager from the Thailand Internet Hotline
> Seila Samleang, the Director from APLE in Cambodia
> Dolores Alforte, the Executive Director from ECPAT in The Philippines, and
> Martin Cocker, Chief Executive from NetSafe in New Zealand.
These international guests will be joined by an impressive array of senior local representatives, including a significant presence from Australian law enforcement.
I’m particularly pleased that the Minister for Justice, the Honourable Michael Keenan, will make the opening address for day two of the forum.
There is a lot to talk about and we, along with the AFP, have carefully constructed a series of presentations, panels and training that will engage the many different stakeholders and prompt questions about where we can all do more to collaborate, leverage off our individual expertise and learn from each other.
I hope you find it stimulating and that there are some real outcomes to take forward.
Thank you for joining us today, and I hope you are able to enjoy our hospitality tonight at networking drinks and then an informal dinner.