ACMA conducts record number of investigations into online child sexual abuse material

DSC_0273The communications media authority last week conducted a record 418 investigations into online child sexual abuse material.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s released the numbers to coincide with National Child Protection Week.

The ACMA hotline, which allows people to refer illegal content to the authority, last week investigated 4,700 images of abused children were referred to law enforcement in Australia or through the international network of internet hotlines.

The content is assessed by the ACMA’s content classification group, before being referred for law enforcement investigation and take-down in the hosting or production country.

“That is a record, and several times what we managed to do last year,”  Richard Bean ACMA deputy chairman told Mumbrella. “It is the result of some new IT efficiencies and the extraordinary dedication of the team.”

Bean said he believed the increase was driven through an increase in the number of referrals. He said the ACMA did not have evidence of a significant increase in illegal child sexual abuse content.

“There is a continuing increase in material received through the hotline and that is I think to do with the awareness of the hotline and increased connectivity of the population,” he said.

“We don’t have evidence of an increased prevalence of this material but absolutely we are getting more more referred to us.”

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One of the walls inside the ACMA last week.

As part of the National Child Protection Week the ACMA displayed internally a figure of the 4700 images assessed with a blue figure for boys and pink figure for girls. By the end of the week across the ACMA’s Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra offices there were representations of more than 400 boys and 4300 girls.

During National Child Protection Week, the ACMA also announced it is now working more closely with Crime Stoppers to make it easier for people to report illegal online content.

Nic Christensen 

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