'Sexting gone wrong' sees spike in reports to eSafety Commissioner during coronavirus shutdown
(Source: abc.net.au)

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(Original link: abc.net.au)

Reports of image-based sexual abuse to the eSafety Commissioner increased by 200 per cent on average from March to May this year. Key points: The rise is due to sexting and sextortion scams during coronavirus shutdowns The eSafety Commissioner has a 90 per cent success rate removing online images A new Online Safety Act will be introduced to Federal Parliament later this year The biggest spike in reports was over the Easter long weekend, when there was a 600 per cent increase. Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant said people being cooped up inside thanks to COVID-19 restrictions was playing a part, along with the resurgence of an old "sextortion" scam. "This is a combination of what you might call sexting gone wrong, people relying on more digital intimacy tools to share affection, love, sexual gratification, rather than meeting physically in person during lockdown," she said. "But we've also seen a huge sextortion scam that has surged. "It comes in the form of an email that scares people into paying cryptocurrency payments with the threat they've hacked into their computer because they have a password compromised in an earlier data breach." Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap. While there has been an increase in reports, the eSafety Commissioner has a 90 per cent success rate for getting images and videos off websites. "We've probably worked with about 150 websites, some of them are the worst of the worst, [but] there have been times we've been surprised," Ms Inman-Grant said. "When you have the power of a government regulatory scheme behind you it does cause people to look at their own terms of service and rethink whether it's worth them having those videos on their sites." Previous research from the commissioner shows one in 10 Australians will experience image-based sexual abuse, with women, LGBTQI people, Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities at higher risk. Ms Inman-Grant said her office had a 90 per cent success rate at having images removed from websites. (ABC News: Alison Branley) Anastasia Powell, an associate professor of criminology at RMIT University, said while more people had been coming forward, there were still many barriers preventing victims from seeking help. "They're not sure who they can turn to, in terms of friends, family, and even in terms of making a report. Who's going to believe them, and who's not going to shame and blame them for the abuse?" she said. "People living in social isolation is further disconnecting them from those lifelines of support." For some victims, coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions left them in even closer proximity with the person threatening to share the explicit images. "We know that abusive partners use the threat of the distribution of a nude or sexual image to deter a victim from seeking help," Ms Powell said. She said one of the best ways to help people come forward was to make it clear they would not be thought less of, or blamed. "The best thing we can do as bystanders is to offer those people support, not engage in blaming or shaming," Ms Powell said. "Now, more than ever, I think it should be clear to us that it is not the exchange of intimate imagery between consenting adults that is the problem here, but in fact the actions of those people who choose to use that to abuse one another." Your questions on coronavirus answered:...