Proposed law targets internet child sex abuse offences

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Using the internet to access, transmit or make child pornography available could land an offender with a 10-year jail term, if proposed legislation is passed through the Senate.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2004, which provides a similar penalty for possessing, producing or supplying child pornography for the purpose of sending it over the internet, has been introduced in the Senate.

"The procuring or 'grooming' of children under 16 for sex, where adults exploit the anonymity of cyberspace to lure children into a web of depravity, will attract even heavier penalties of up to 15 years jail," according to a statement issued by Daryl Williams, Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts.

Williams said that law enforcement agencies estimated that about 85 percent of child pornography seized in Australia was distributed via the internet.

"The new offences will strike at the heart of the repulsive trade in material depicting the sexual abuse of children and will also enable consistent prosecution of offenders Australia-wide under federal law," Williams' statement said.

He added that the proposed laws would also allow the Australian Federal Police to "proactively police the internet by assuming the identity of a fictitious child and interact with potential predatory adults".

The proposed legislation is part of a package of new and revised telecommunications-related offences, according to the statement.

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