Campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable

A 22 year old man who was caught with child pornography involving babies, coerced a teenage girl into sending him nude photos before publically humiliating her by posting them to Instagram. At the age of just 20, Alastair Wayne Anning was found with about 10,000 photos and videos of child exploitation which he downloaded using an app he thought was untraceable. Judge Devereaux sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended after three months.

A Mackay man caught with more than 1000 “disturbing” child pornography images and videos secretly filmed his 15 year old stepdaughter showering with a friend and using the toilet. Judge Dick handed down an 18 month sentence but the man will serve just 5 months in prison before that term is suspended for 2 years.

A paramedic has been charged with possession of “disturbing, repulsive” child pornography images and movies. Police located 13 movies in total and 4426 images – the majority classified as one of the most grossly offensive type of child exploitation material including acts of penetration and sadism. Judge Burnett ordered Parsons to a sentence of 15 months jail, suspended after 2 months.

These are just a few examples of people charged with possession of child exploitation material in the last month. The sentences are very similar, and lenient, across the board.

In early 2017, Collective Shout launched a campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable for their actions. This accountability also needs to be directed towards internet service providers and their obligation to better monitor what their users are accessing.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to write a submission for the inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017. In our submission we agreed wholeheartedly that sentences for accessing child exploitation material needed to be increased. The above examples give you a general cross section of the types of sentences being handed down.

In addition to harsher sentencing, we also called on government to introduce legislation to increase liability for carriers (internet service providers) to more closely monitor and report on people accessing child exploitation material. Some fantastic recommendations came out of the inquiry, including increasing penalties for ISP’s for failing to pass on information, having a more formal reporting process, and allowing the Australian Federal Police to access service users personal details. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws surrounding service provider/service user relationships, ISP’s are not obligated to pass on client information.

The amendments to the Crimes Legislation Bill have already been debated twice in Parliament in 2017 and are scheduled to be debated again early 2018. At this stage, there has been no debate about the responsibilities of ISP’s, just debate around increasing sentencing penalties.

The United Kingdom has introduced “opt in” rules for people wishing to access the internet. If a service user wants to access 18+ content, they have to let their ISP know and provide their credit card details and proof of age. This allows police and ISP’s to better track people who are accessing child exploitation material. In Australia, you have to “opt out” of seeing this content or use internet filters. The UK model is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction to continue to crack down on people accessing and sharing child exploitation material.

Collective Shout will continue to lobby MP’s and work with other organisations to make sure ISP’s obligations are at the forefront of any bill amendments. Thank you so much for your support during 2017! We could not have achieved what we have without your help.

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