The Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) co-sponsored a major new regional forum 29-30 July 2014 to highlight current measures for combating child sexual abuse material online and to explore new opportunities for cross-sector action and collaboration.
The invitation-only forum brought together key stakeholders in Australian law enforcement and regionally based agencies and organisations who deal with online child sexual abuse material.
‘The forum presented a tightly focused opportunity to exchange best practice and look at innovative ways for dealing with an issue that is of real concern to Australian citizens,’ said ACMA Deputy Chairman and Cybersafety spokesman, Richard Bean.
‘Only through multi-jurisdictional and cross-sector approaches can online child sex exploitation matters be dealt with effectively,’ said AFP Assistant Commissioner, National Manager High Tech Crime Operations Tim Morris. ‘We are looking for real opportunities for collaboration to assist the critical work undertaken by law enforcement in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region.’
Key note presentations were delivered by the AFP, INHOPE—the International Association of Internet Hotlines for the eradication of child sexual abuse material online—and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children—a global movement to protect children from sexual exploitation and abduction.
Forum participants included Australian state police forces; the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (USA); the Internet Watch Foundation (UK); the Internet Association Japan; and End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT International), as well as hotlines for public reports about online child sexual abuse in Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand and the Philippines.
The forum took place at the ACMA’s offices in Sydney. More information can be found here: www.acma.gov.au/CCEMOforum
An important note on use of terminology
The Australian Federal Police and other child protection agencies around the world have noted that the use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ (particularly in the media) can actually benefit child sex abusers as it may:
- indicate legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
- conjure up images of children posing in ‘provocative’ positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
As they state: ‘Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused. This is not pornography’.
Alternatives to the term include: ‘child exploitation material’ and ‘child sexual abuse material’.
For more information, please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or [email protected]
Media release 39/2014—23 July
The ACMA plays a crucial role in the eradication of child sexual abuse material from the internet.
The ACMA Hotline for reporting offensive and illegal online content has become a frontline mechanism in Australia for combating this material.
The ACMA has strong take-down powers for such content hosted in Australia (with 100 per cent take-down compliance across the 14 year life of the scheme).
The Hotline has formal relationships with all Australian law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Federal Police and Crime Stoppers Australia.
The ACMA 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.
Nearly all child sexual abuse material reported through INHOPE channels is removed within three days.
The role of the Australian Federal Police
The AFP performs an investigative and coordination role within Australia for multijurisdictional and international online child sex exploitation matters, including investigations into internet sites carrying child sexual abuse material.
As a key partner in this fight, the AFP is co-sponsoring the event with the ACMA as a positive initiative to enhance regional collaboration.
The regional co-operation forum
The forum will enable attendees to exchange strategic and operational information through a range of presentations from public, private, law enforcement and industry bodies. The sessions will facilitate discussion of operational tactics and opportunities for innovative collaboration and information-sharing.
The forum will support the activities of INHOPE hotlines by providing a regional focus to the global fight against child exploitation online. New and emerging hotlines for reporting child sexual abuse material in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines will be attending the forum.
Rise in investigations
Following public awareness-raising activities conducted by the ACMA this year, the Hotline has seen a significant rise in complaints from members of the public about child sexual abuse material encountered online.
New figures show an unprecedented 550 per cent increase in investigations into online child sexual abuse material. The ACMA conducted more than 7,600 individual investigations, based upon complaints in 2013/14—a dramatic jump on last year’s figures.
These activities have included the launch of ACMA Hotline branding, participation in National Child Protection Week and the formalisation of substantial new agreements with Australian law enforcement agencies and Crime Stoppers Australia.