Tech platforms urged to verify user IDs to

Technology providers must put in place “robust systems” to verify users’ identity to tackle the prevalence of child abuse material.

Uniting Church senior social justice advocate Mark Zirnsak said the system is “stacked against law enforcement” with child sexual abuse investigations slowed by an inability to identify offenders.

The joint parliamentary committee examining law enforcement capabilities relating to child exploitation heard that 21,000 reports of online exploitation were received by the child protection triage unit in 2020.

From those, 191 people were charged with a total of 1847 offences.

Dr Zirnsak said platform providers must know who their users are at all times with the large volume of child sexual abuse online making standard police investigation “inadequate”.

“Unfortunately the current debate in public about this is exceedingly disappointing – you either have a completely public identity, or a completely anonymous identity…the platform provider in all cases should know who you are,” he said.

“If you misuse your account, then law enforcement is able to identify you and not waste a lot of time doing that.”

Dr Zirnsak described his “significant disappointment” with human rights advocates championing privacy as vital in the debate, arguing they disregarded the privacy of survivors.

“If you read their submissions often in this space around online regulation they will not acknowledge the abuse of children in the online space is a human rights abuse,” he said.

“I just find that truly bizarre.”

The hearing continues.

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