Protecting children online, one image at a time

Figures published today by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner’s eSafety Hotline show over 5,000 URLs of child sexual abuse material were investigated in the 2014/15 year. All of this content was found to be hosted outside of Australia.

Since 2012-13, higher complaint numbers have resulted in an increase in investigations into child sexual abuse material. This year’s figure represents a 330 per cent increase over the two year period.

In partnership with Australian law enforcement, and through the international network of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), 91 per cent of content investigated by the eSafety Hotline was removed in less than three days.

'Each image that gets taken down means one less child is re-victimised by the image being viewed and shared', said Alastair MacGibbon, Children’s eSafety Commissioner. 'As an Office, we aim to make the internet a safe place for all Australian children, and the work of the eSafety Hotline is contributing to this goal one image at a time.'

'The removal of this content is a collaborative effort—complaints come in from the public and the eSafety Hotline works with law enforcement and our global partner network to rapidly eradicate the images,' he added.

An infographic released today, in conjunction with National Child Protection Week, shows the investigated material resulted in the removal of images depicting more than 25,000 children.

The eSafety Hotline conducts investigations into complaints from members of the public, Australian law enforcement and international hotlines. Its work results in the take-down of images, the apprehension of perpetrators and the protection of children.

Every report to the hotline can make a difference. Reports can be made at: https://www.esafety.gov.au/report/illegal-harmful-content.

INHOPE is an active and collaborative network of 51 hotlines in 45 countries worldwide, dealing with illegal content online and committed to stamping out child sexual abuse from the Internet.

National Child Protection Week is an initiative of the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).

 

BACKGROUNDER

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner commenced operations on 1 July 2015. As one of its functions it assumed responsibility for enforcing provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 dealing with illegal online content (for example, child sexual abuse material online), including operating the eSafety hotline. This work was previously carried out by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

In addition, the Office is responsible for a range of online safety measures for children, including administering a cyberbullying complaints scheme, backed by legislation, providing comprehensive online safety advice and education programs, and will administer a voluntary accreditation scheme for providers of online safety programs. These functions were established under the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015, passed earlier this year, and the Office has commenced carrying out these functions in soft launch mode ahead of a formal launch later this year.

The Office plays a crucial role in the eradication of child sexual abuse material from the internet.

The eSafety Hotline for reporting offensive and illegal online content has become a frontline mechanism in Australia for combating this material.

Within Australia

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 confers strong take-down powers for such content hosted in Australia (with 100 per cent compliance across the 15 year life of the scheme).

The Office has formal relationships with all Australian law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Federal Police and Crime Stoppers Australia.

Overseas

The eSafety Hotline 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.

Over 90 per cent of child sexual abuse material reported through INHOPE channels is removed within three days.

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