Australian investigations of online sexual abuse material rise 550 per cent

More than 7600 individual cases in 2013/14

The 2013/14 financial year saw more than six times the number of Australian investigations into online child sexual abuse material, according to figures released today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The ACMA conducted more than 7600 individual investigations based on complaints in 2013/14, representing a 550 per cent increase in investigations from the previous year.

The regulator referred all investigated material to either the Australian police or to international law enforcement via the international community of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE). Nearly all investigations (99.5 per cent) lasted two days and the content was taken down within three days, the ACMA said.

The ACMA attributed the increase in investigations to growing public awareness about how to combat this kind of illegal material online.

“There is a growing awareness that this material is simply unacceptable – and that there are increasingly effective mechanisms in place for its removal,” said ACMA's cybersafety spokesman, Richard Bean.

In the past year, the ACMA has stepped up its efforts to increase awareness, including by launching the ACMA Hotline branding, participating in National Child Protection Week and signing new agreements with Australian law enforcement agencies and Crime Stoppers Australia.

The ACMA also introduced new software in 2013 to assist in investigations.

Bean said taking down online child sexual abuse material is critical to rehabilitating victims.

“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.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Tags child abusetakedownChildrenlaw enforcementhotlinesinvestigationsillegal Internet contentpolicegovernmentAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)cybersafetyonline content

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2 Comments

Greg

1

ACMA is a toothless tiger as before when they were the dept of transport & telecommunications they actually had inspectors that actually could enforce laws issue fines and prosecute people. Now they made them into ACMA they lost that ability and now need the ACCC & other departments to do their job. This was bought in by the government as they made redundant those staff to save a few bucks.
The governal general now can appoint any one the powers to inspect your phone or home pc, that person could be the local cleaner as the statute does not say who they may appoint, this is n breech of the constitution as the commonwealth has power foe telecommunications, not the states or local councils.

Ken

2

Police seem to be only half-hearted about catching those who buy/download/make child pornography. Time and time again mothers of abused children say that the abusive partner has child pornography on his computer and police wont even take a look. And why when there is a national Operation do they announce it in advance and give these criminals the time to dispose of their computers?

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