There has been an increase of nearly 550% in the number of items of online child abuse and other illegal materials referred to Australia’s law enforcement agencies in the 2013-14 financial year.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released its annual report which found the organisation’s hotline for illegal and offensive online content has experienced a huge spike in the number of cases requiring investigation.
In 2013–14, the ACMA referred 7,670 items of online child abuse and other illegal material to law enforcement agencies, nearly a 550% increase on the previous year. Of those items, 7,540 were notified through the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) for take-down.
Acting as an international law enforcement notification service, INHOPE coordinates a network of international hotlines to take action in response to reports of illegal content.
“The increase is a result of a rising number of complaints to the ACMA, coupled with the ACMA’s commitment to pursuing the removal of such material,” the organisation said in the report.
The Australian authority must investigate all valid complaints about online content which may be prohibited including content that is refused classification or is considered X18+.
During 2013-14 ACMA received 4,051 complaints, compared to 4,633 during 2012–13.
Over the period the authority investigated 8,981 individual items, including ones containing child abuse material, and assessed them as prohibited or potential prohibited online content. Of these, about 88% were refused classification and prohibited.
If the content is hosted in Australia the ACMA is required to order its removal or prevent access to it. If it’s hosted overseas the authority notifies optional computer-based filters as part of the national Family Friendly Filter scheme. During 2013–14, a total of 8,980 overseas-hosted prohibited or potential prohibited items were noted.
This table shows the number of internet content investigations ACMA has conducted in 2013-14 compared to previous financial years.