What to do if you see illegal and/or offensive content online

Updated: May 9

By Kayelene Kerr from eSafeKids.



In Australia the eSafety Commissioner Cyber Report team investigates complaints from Australian residents and law enforcement agencies about offensive and illegal online content.


Priority is given to the investigation of child sexual abuse material, as well as pro-terrorist content and content that promotes, incites or instructs in crime or violence.

Child sexual abuse material (CAM/CSAM) consists of images and videos showing the sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of children. The content can range from children posing in sexually suggestive ways through to contact offences involving sexual assault.


Please do not use the term ‘child pornography’ to describe this content. Pornography is a form of media entertainment produced by consenting adults for the purpose of producing sexual arousal in viewers. As noted by Interpol, ‘Child abuse images involve children who cannot and would not consent and who are victims of a crime.’ Describing such content as ‘pornography’ trivialises the impact of sexual abuse and exploitation on children and obscures the fact that they are victims of serious crime.


The eSafety Commissioner works with the global INHOPE network to achieve rapid takedown of CAM/CSAM hosted overseas, and cooperates closely with Australian law enforcement when CAM/CSAM is hosted in Australia.


Reports from members of the public make a difference. Every image removed helps prevent the re-victimisation of the children involved.


Collecting evidence

If you encounter illegal or harmful content online capture the following before blocking or deleting the user or important evidence may be lost.

  • Screenshots/photos of conversations (Do not screenshot, save, share or distribute any explicit images of the underage person as this is an offence).

  • Record social media details (including account profile, profile usernames and URL of profile)

  • Webpage addresses (URLs)

  • Dates and times

  • Any other information you have

The Australia eSafety Commissioner has compiled a comprehensive suite of advice on how to collect evidence. This also includes a series of 'how to' videos, view here.


Report

If you encounter a description or depiction of child abuse, child sexual abuse or other offensive and illegal content you can report it to the eSafety Commissioner here.


When making a report you need to:

  • Report why the content is offensive or illegal.

  • Provide the location of the content, for example, a web address/URL (beginning with www or http or https)

  • Remember do not download or make copies of child sexual abuse material to attach to communication intended for the eSafety Commissioner.

You can make your report anonymously.



What happens after you report

The eSafety Commissioner will take action to remove online child sexual abuse material that is hosted in Australia and overseas.


Material hosted in Australia

The eSafety Commissioner will notify the relevant Australian police about child sexual abuse material and, once they are certain that their investigation will not be compromised, they 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

The eSafety Commissioner is the Australian member of INHOPE (the International Association of Internet Hotlines), a network of 46 hotlines that works as a global mechanism to rapidly remove child sexual abuse material from the internet. Australia has been a member of INHOPE since 2000. If child sexual abuse material is located in an INHOPE member country other than Australia, the eSafety Commissioner will refer the content to that country’s hotline so the relevant law enforcement agency is alerted. The vast majority of content referred through INHOPE is removed in less than three working days. In the small number of cases where child sexual abuse material is hosted in a non-INHOPE member country, the eSafety Commissioner will inform the Australian Federal Police.


Online grooming

Grooming and procuring of children over the internet are crimes that are investigated by the police. Online child sexual exploitation, including online grooming and inappropriate contact, should be reported to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE). Read the eSafeKids blog about reporting inappropriate online contact with children here.


Read

Read the eSafeKids blog about online grooming.


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About The Author

Kayelene Kerr is recognised as one of Western Australia’s most experienced specialist providers of Protective Behaviours, Body Safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Wellness and Pornography education workshops. Kayelene is passionate about the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation, drawing on over 24 years’ experience of study and law enforcement, investigating sexual crimes, including technology facilitated crimes. Kayelene delivers engaging and sought after prevention education workshops to educate, equip and empower children and young people, and to help support parents, carers, educators and other professionals. Kayelene believes protecting children from harm is a shared responsibility and everyone can play a role in the care, safety and protection of children. Kayelene aims to inspire the trusted adults in children’s lives to tackle sometimes challenging topics.


About eSafeKids

eSafeKids strives to reduce and prevent harm through proactive prevention education and training, supporting and inspiring parents, carers, educators and other professionals to talk with children, young people and vulnerable adults about protective behaviours, body safety, cyber safety, digital wellness and pornography. eSafeKids is based in Perth, Western Australia.


eSafeKids provides books and resources to teach children about social and emotional intelligence, respectful relationships, diversity, resilience, empathy, gender equality, consent, body safety, protective behaviours, cyber safety, digital wellness, media literacy, puberty, pornography and family and domestic violence.


eSafeKids books can support educators teaching protective behaviours and child abuse prevention education that aligns with the Western Australian Curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Framework: National Quality Standards (NQS).



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