International Justice Mission Australia, has welcomed Communications Minister Michelle Rowland’s announcement today to strengthen the Basic Online Safety Expectations and bring forward a review of the Online Safety Act to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse.
IJM Australia Chief Advocacy Officer, Grace Wong, said these reforms are desperately needed.
“It has been concerning to witness recent developments where big tech companies have refused to comply with Australia’s Basic Online Safety Expectations to report on measures they take to protect children from online sexual abuse on their platforms.”
“IJM Australia welcomes this strengthened stance from the Australian Government to ensure the accountability of tech companies in clamping down on child sexual exploitation and abuse material online,” Ms Wong said.
In February this year, IJM Australia signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, along with 1,000 other Australians, calling on the government to toughen up regulation of the tech industry to crack down on child sexual abuse material.
“It is essential the Online Safety Act is properly strengthened to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse at the hands of Australian child sex perpetrators,” Ms Wong said.
A recent IJM study1 reported that tragically, half a million Filipino children were trafficked to produce new child sexual exploitation and abuse materials last year alone.
A 2020 IJM study2 found Australians accounted for 1 in 5 offenders for the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the Philippines, the global hot spot for this crime type.
“Australian Government regulation of the tech sector has real-world impacts on the protection of vulnerable children in countries like the Philippines from online sexual exploitation and abuse by Australian offenders.”
In 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline received 32 million reports with over 88.3 million files of child sexual abuse materials.
“The generation and dissemination of online child sexual abuse materials is evolving quickly and the mechanisms for enforcement must be updated so the eSafety Commissioner has the tools to ensure that Australia’s standards and codes are complied with,” Ms Wong said.
1 IJM 2023 Scale of Harm report available here.
2 IJM 2020 Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry, and Civil Society report available here.