As part of its role to regulate online content, the ACMA is a member of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), along with member hotlines from Europe, Asia and America. INHOPE members deal with complaints about illegal internet content, particularly child sexual abuse material, to ensure rapid and effective response to illegal content reports. Illegal activity on the internet is a multi-jurisdictional problem. Often material reported to a hotline is hosted beyond the borders of its own country or perpetrators are located abroad, making international coordination between hotlines essential. Illegal online content hosted within a hotline’s jurisdiction is referred to law enforcement agencies in that country, and to the internet service provider hosting the content, for removal.
In October 2010, the ACMA’s Content Classification Section received referrals from the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK and the Friendly Runet Foundation in Russia about a web page containing child sexual abuse imagery, which appeared to be hosted by an Australian company.
The ACMA responded swiftly by:
> identifying through technical analysis that the content was being hosted by a service provider located in the US
> referring the matter to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US, who successfully had the content removed from the internet
> forwarding information about suspected Australian affiliations to the content to Australian Police who have launched an investigation into an Australian individual associated with the website.
This outcome highlights the important work the ACMA undertakes on a daily basis and the strong relationships it has with Australian law enforcement agencies and its international counterparts in dealing with online child abuse material.