What is illegal and restricted online content?
'Illegal and restricted online content' refers to 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 that should not be accessed by children, such as simulated sexual activity, detailed nudity or high impact violence.
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.
You can report content that you believe is illegal or restricted to eSafety at any time, without first reporting it to the online or electronic service or platform where it appears.
On this page:
Illegal online content
Illegal content is the worst type of harmful online material. It shows, describes, promotes, incites or instructs people in violent crimes including:
- sexual exploitation of children
- terrorist acts
- attempted murder
- kidnapping with violence or threats of violence
Child sexual exploitation material is any content that sexualises and takes unfair advantage of a child or young person under 18, as well as child sexual abuse material that shows their sexual assault.
eSafety can direct an online or electronic service or platform to remove it.
Restricted online content
Restricted online content is material that is unsuitable for children, such as simulated sexual activity, nudity and high impact violence.
eSafety can direct an online or electronic service or platform to ensure that restricted online content can only be accessed by people who are 18 or older.
What eSafety can investigate
The online content we can investigate includes posts, comments, chats, texts, messages, emails, memes, livestreams, images or videos.
The material can be sent or shared using an online or electronic service or platform including:
- social media services
- messaging services
- email services
- chat apps
- interactive online games
- review forums, news groups and bulletin boards
- files that can be downloaded via peer-to-peer software.
eSafety prioritises investigation of material that shows or describes the sexual exploitation or abuse of children, pro-terror material and material that promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence.
More about child sexual exploitation material
If the sexual abuse of someone under 18 is recorded, that recording is illegal online content called ‘child sexual exploitation material’. Content that encourages or instructs people to sexually or physically abuse a child or exploit or groom them is also ‘child sexual exploitation material’.
eSafety works with law enforcement agencies and the global INHOPE network to remove child sexual exploitation material wherever it is hosted. Your reports make a difference – every image or video removed helps prevent the re-victimisation of the children involved.
Report child sexual exploitation material immediately. You can do this anonymously – that means you don’t have to give your name or contact details.
More about child sexual abuse
Children and young people can be sexually abused online through the sharing of sexual content, comments or conversations, or through livestreaming sexual or sexualised activity or conversations. Usually, they are tricked or persuaded to trust the person first, so it is easier to abuse them – this is called ‘grooming’.
Both sexual abuse and grooming a child online for sexual abuse or exploitation are crimes and should be reported to police immediately.
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). If you think a child is at risk, report it at accce.gov.au or via this internationally recognised Virtual Global Taskforce logo button.
Reports can also be made in confidence to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at crimestoppers.com.au.
How illegal and restricted online content is assessed
The Online Safety Act defines illegal and restricted online content as either 'class 1 material' or 'class 2 material'. Whether content is class 1 material and class 2 material is assessed with 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.
We can also assess whether content is Abhorrent Violent Material under the Criminal Code Act. In such a case, eSafety may issue a notice to any website or hosting service that provides access to the content, directing them to remove it. If a service is later prosecuted for failing to remove or cease hosting Abhorrent Violent Material, the notice can be used in legal proceedings to show recklessness regarding the content.
- Find out more about how to report online content that is illegal or restricted.
- Find out more about illegal and restricted online content, including how it is classified and regulated.
- Find out more about international collaboration to remove child sexual exploitation material.
- Find out the answers to frequently asked questions about illegal and restricted online content.