Big jump in offensive Internet content

Complaints to the Australian Broadcasting Authority about offensive Internet content jumped 44 per cent in the second half of last year.

The huge increase on the previous six months led to 290 complaints being lodged with the ABA according to new figures released on Thursday.

Two-thirds of the offensive Websites that had to be investigated between July and December 2000 involved child pornography or paedophilia.

Investigations found 203 cases of illegal or highly offensive content, 65 per cent of them containing child pornography.

The figures are part of a report on the government's Internet content regulation scheme, which showed 150 items were referred to the Australian Federal Police or state police forces.

The number of Australian-hosted offensive sites or postings reported halved in the second six months of the scheme's operation, while the amount of overseas content doubled.

Eighty per cent of the foreign content was hosted in the US and 14 per cent in Russia.

In the six months to December, the ABA ordered 67 local sites be shut down and referred 136 overseas sites to the makers of filtering software so they could be added to the blacklist.

Communications Minister Richard Alston said the figures show the content rules were working well to remove offensive internet material.

"The scheme provides for the removal of illegal and highly offensive material and heavy fines can be imposed if content hosts fail to comply with ABA directives," Senator Alston said.

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