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Illegal and restricted online content

Illegal and restricted online content includes material that shows or encourages child sexual abuse, terrorism or other extreme violence.

eSafety can direct an online service or platform to remove illegal content or ensure that restricted content can only be accessed by people who are 18 or older.

Stay safe

If you are in Australia and someone is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000) now. If you are elsewhere, contact the police in your country.


Online child sexual exploitation, including online grooming and inappropriate contact, should be reported to the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE).


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Reports can also be made in confidence to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at

What 'illegal and restricted online content' means

‘Illegal and restricted online content’ refers to online content that ranges from the most seriously harmful material, such as images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children or acts of terrorism, through to content which should not be accessed by children, such as simulated sexual activity, detailed nudity or high impact violence.

The Online Safety Act (2021) defines this content as either ‘class 1 material’ or ‘class 2 material’. Class 1 material and class 2 material are defined by reference to Australia’s National Classification Scheme, a cooperative arrangement between the Australian Government and state and territory governments for the classification of films, computer games and certain publications.

For more information, read detailed guidance about the Online Content Scheme and the Abhorrent Violent Conduct Powers regulated by eSafety. 

Report illegal and restricted online content to eSafety

You can report illegal and restricted content, including child sexual exploitation material, to eSafety. All reports about illegal and restricted online content can be made anonymously – that means you don’t have to give your name or contact details when you report it. 


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How illegal and restricted online content is classified

What is class 1 material?

Class 1 material is material that is or would likely be refused classification under the National Classification Scheme. It includes material that: 

  • depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified  
  • describes or depicts in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not), or 
  • promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence. 

What is class 2 material?

Class 2 material is material that is, or would likely be, classified as either: 

  • X18+ (or, in the case of publications, category 2 restricted), or  
  • R18+ (or, in the case of publications, category 1 restricted) under the National Classification Scheme, because it is considered inappropriate for general public access and/or for children and young people under 18 years old.  

eSafety works with online service providers to ensure access to Class 2 material, which is considered unsuitable for children and young people under 18, is restricted.

Context is important when classifying material. The nature and purpose of the material must be considered, including its literary, artistic or educational merit and whether it serves a medical, legal, social or scientific purpose. 

This means it is unlikely that sexual health education content, information about sexuality and gender, or health and safety information about drug use and sex will be considered illegal or restricted content by eSafety.

How eSafety helps to regulate illegal and restricted online content

We work with law enforcement partners and international collaborative partners to remove and restrict access to illegal and restricted content wherever it is hosted.

The actions we can take vary depending on the type of content and where it is located.

Child sexual exploitation material

We take action to remove online child sexual abuse material that is hosted in Australia and overseas. 

Material hosted in Australia

We notify the relevant Australian police about child sexual abuse material and, once we are certain that their investigation will not be compromised, we issue a takedown notice directing the hosting provider to remove the content.

Any hosting provider that does not comply with a takedown notice issued by the eSafety Commissioner faces serious penalties. 

Material hosted overseas

eSafety is the Australian member of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), which allows for the referral of child sexual exploitation material between network members to relevant law enforcement agencies for rapid removal in the country where it is hosted.

eSafey abides by the INHOPE Code of Practice, which describes the role and responsibilities of members.

In the small number of cases where child sexual abuse material is hosted in a non-INHOPE member country, we inform the Australian Federal Police.

For more information, read detailed guidance about the Online Content Scheme eSafety operates.

Abhorrent violent conduct material

The Online Safety Act includes a number of powers which allow eSafety to request or require an internet service provider to block material that promotes, incites, instructs in or depicts abhorrent violent conduct. 

These powers protect the Australian community by seeking to prevent the viral, rapid and widespread distribution online of terrorist and extreme violent material, such as the video created by the perpetrator of the March 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack.

It is intended that eSafety can issue blocking requests or blocking notices in situations where an online crisis event has been declared by eSafety. 

Any blocking direction made under the Act would only be in place for a limited time, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Following the initial blocking period, eSafety can take further action to address the relevant material, in consultation with the ISPs and affected websites.

For more information, read detailed guidance about the Abhorrent Violent Conduct Powers regulated by eSafety. 

Restricted Access System

The Online Safety Act requires that eSafety has a Restricted Access System Declaration in place at all times. This is intended to limit the exposure of children and young people under 18 to pornography and other age-inappropriate online content.

A Restricted Access System (RAS) covers the kind of material that has been or is likely to be classified R18+ or Category 1 Restricted (‘Restricted Material’) under the National Classification Code.

This includes: 

  • realistically simulated sexual activity between adults 
  • high impact nudity 
  • high impact violence 
  • high impact drug use
  • high impact language.  

Services that will be obligated to meet the requirements of the RAS will include social media services, designated internet services and relevant electronic services that are providing access to material from Australia.

It will also apply to Australian hosting service providers, who will be required either to stop hosting the material or take reasonable steps to ensure access to Restricted Material is limited to adults.

Learn more about the development of the Restricted Access System Declaration 2022 and explanatory statement.

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Where else can I get help?


If you, or someone you care about, is at risk of harm right now call Triple Zero (000).


12 to 25 year olds. All issues. Phone counselling and online chat available 9am to 1am AEST, every day.

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Last updated: 02/04/2024