Australia spending AU$4.8m to do something about revenge porn

Cash for new reporting tool, of which we already have two, plus smuttmeister research

Topless man in boxer shorts

Australia's Department of Communications has found AU$4.8m to “go towards the development of a national online reporting tool to help counter the effects of non-consensual sharing of intimate images,” otherwise known as revenge porn. But the department doesn't know just how the money will be spent, or whether it will result in duplication of existing infrastructure.

What we do know is that the portal will be operated by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, which already operates a national online reporting tool for victims of cyber-bullying. Much cyber-bullying takes place on social media and the commissioner's powers mean it has dedicated contacts at the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube, plus some power to enforce takedown requests.

The Register understands something similar is contemplated for revenge porn, but that the Commissioner's office is at the early stages of figuring out what might be possible to achieve with organisations who willingly host such material, as few have Australian presences and are therefore beyond the commissioner's reach. The commissioner's Office also has back-channels to organisations that aren't covered by Australian legislation, and can be persuasive in its efforts to have material removed.

Some of the $4.8m will therefore go towards “extensive research to help inform [the portal's] development and related resources, as well as engage with local and international stakeholders to ensure that it is positioned to best meet the needs of affected Australians.”

But we also understand that the department is yet to consider whether the existing bullying portal or the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and its reporting tool could be re-used for this new project.

ACORN overlaps with revenge porn, as it is an offence to post intimate images of minors online and the Office of the Commissioner would be bound to report them to the Australian Federal Police.

Whatever the Office of the Commissioner is up to, it has less than a year to get it done: the Department says the new reporting tool will be up and running by Q3 2017. ®


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