The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) received a total of 3212 online complaints in the past year, more than three times the number of complaints it received in the previous year, according to the industry watchdog's annual report.
The report found that ACMA ran investigations into 3828 items of online content during the reporting period, a 68 per cent increase on 2281 received in the 2008-09 period. The document notes that “a complaint may contain multiple items, with an ‘item’ referring to an individual article of content such as a link or a web page”.
According to the report, the increase can likely be attributed to a number of issues, including an increased number of Australian families being online, a greater awareness of the potential dangers of harmful content, higher awareness of how to report suspected prohibited content and greater community interest in online content regulation issues.
The findings indicate there was an increase of 172 per cent in the number of complaints received, 118 of which were invalid.
“The overall complexity of the complaints, and resulting need for a proportion to be referred to the Classification Board for classification, also impacted on the timeframes,” the report reads. “Consequently, the ACMA did not deal with all complaints within the applicable timeframe but priority complaints (those dealing with child abuse material) continued to be dealt with within two days.”
The report found 1932 items of prohibited or potentially prohibited content were detected. 175 investigations were terminated as a result of the ACMA being unable to obtain sufficient information, which usually means the content identified by the complaint can’t be located.
‘Take down’ notices were also issued for 25 items of Australian-hosted prohibited content.
“A total of 1,907 overseas-hosted prohibited or potentially prohibited items of internet content were referred to the makers of internet software filters under Schedule 5 of the BSA [Business Software Alliance] and the registered ISP code of practice for dealing with such material,” the report read.
The report also identified 1065 Refused Classification (RC) sites depicting child pornography, eight of which were hosted locally, a figure more than double the 450 included on the ACMA-managed blacklist.