Greater powers to fight online child pornography

News laws cracking down on people who distribute or help distribute child pornography online have now passed State Parliament.

The new Statutes Amendment (Child Exploitation and Encrypted Material) Bill 2017 establishes new offences ensuring those who manage or promote websites featuring child exploitation material (CEM) - even if they are not technically in possession of it - can be prosecuted.

The legislation also makes it illegal to provide information that would help someone avoid apprehension for an offence involving child exploitation material.

Under the new laws, police will have additional power to access encrypted or password protected material – by compelling suspects to provide passwords, fingerprints, facial or retinal scans - and hold suspects for up to 4 hours if they believe the person has the capacity to erase or remotely remove such data.

South Australia will join Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the Commonwealth, who already have the power to compel the provision of a password or other means of access to encrypted or restricted material.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said today that while South Australia’s existing laws address the possession and distribution of CEM, they did not capture the conduct of administering, establishing, operating and promoting websites and online networks.

“It is important that we respond to the dramatic technological advances and the new ways in which crimes, especially the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, are being committed,” Ms Chapman said.

“The internet and rapid advances in technology bring obvious benefits for modern society. However, there is a dark side to these advances. The ease and manner in which people can communicate is being used for sophisticated criminal purposes.

“We need to keep pace with these changes in technology, especially with the new ways people are using these tools for their vile offending. What we have done is to make sure our law enforcement agencies and the courts have the tools to deal with such criminal behaviour.”

The Marshall Liberal Government wanted to further extend this Bill to also incorporate terrorism related offences, organised crime and drug trafficking, however the Labor Party did not support it.

“The Labor Party have unfortunately decided to considerably weaken our initial legislation in this area,” Ms Chapman said.

“The use of modern technology and encryption programs extends to many other types of modern crime including terrorism, drug trafficking, revenge porn, cyber facilitate abuse and domestic violence.

“It’s beyond me why the Labor Party want to protect these kind of offenders.

“While this backflip is unfortunate, I will continue to work with the South Australian Police in the important area of encryption in future,” Ms Chapman said.