National

Australians paying for online child abuse

By AAP Newswire

Hundreds of Australians are believed to have paid for live-streamed child abuse from the Philippines, new data reveals.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has identified more than 2700 financial transactions linked to extreme child abuse between 2006 and 2018.

Analysis linking transaction data with criminal histories has helped develop a profile of likely webcam predators.

They are likely to be men aged in their 50s or 60s and most have no criminal record.

Australian Federal Police boss Reece Kershaw said his agency had received almost 17,000 reports of online child sexual abuse.

Each report can contain thousands of images and videos.

"Australian offenders are involved in producing this material," Mr Kershaw told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"They travel to impoverished places and they exploit vulnerable children. They use the dark web like a weapon.

"They use encryption like a sword and anonymity like a shield. That's to harm our children and avoid justice."

Mr Kershaw said authorities would also look to name and shame tech giants like Facebook if they obstructed law enforcement, adding "all bets are off".

Michael Phelan from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission wants to simplify laws around accessing the encrypted communications of pedophiles.

Mr Phelan said authorities had created too big a dragnet when harvesting communications, making it difficult to filter out their targets.

"We have to take terabytes of information and sit on it when I don't want it," he said.