I have had the honour of recently becoming a champion for the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF has been the UK Hotline for reporting child sexual abuse content, criminally obscene adult content and non-photographic child sexual abuse images for 16 years now and continues to work hard to get these images of the internet.
Child sexual abuse images and videos are a serious and persistent global online problem. It is therefore important that law enforcement, government, politicians, hotlines and other stakeholders continue their fight to minimise the availability of this content on the internet.
The way the IWF works is through reporting of people who find material online that they have reason to believe is an abusive image. Reports can be made by the public on www.iwf.org.uk and every report is assessed by one of the IWF analysts. The IWF processed 41 877 reports in 2011 and 13 161 were assessed as indeed containing potentially criminal content within the IWF’s remit. If the child sexual abuse images or videos are hosted in the UK, the IWF will liaise with the relevant law enforcement agency (CEOP – The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) and the online hosting company to make sure the content is removed as quickly as possible and the necessary information for policy investigations is secured. If the content is hosted outside the UK, the IWF passes on the report to the hotline or relevant law enforcement agency in the country where the content is hosted directly or through INHOPE, the international association of hotlines. While the content is being taken down, the IWF works with the online industry in the UK to disrupt the availability of the content to UK citizens.
- The IWF assisted with the removal of 13,000 URLs child sexual abuse hosted worldwide (only 66 notices issued in UK)
- 74% child victims appeared to be 10 years old or younger
- 8% under 2 years old
- 64% depicted activity between adults and children including rape and sexual torture
- 44% of public reports made anonymously
Over the last 16 years:
- Over 390,000 web pages assessed in 16 years
- 92,000 URLs removed for containing criminal content
- Less than 1% of child sexual abuse content is hosted in the UK since 2003, down from 18% in 1996
- Child sexual abuse content is removed in the UK typically within 60 minutes
- By sharing intelligence with police we aided the identification and rescue of 12 children in the past two years
It’s for these reasons that I am proud to be a champion of this important organisation and I look forward to working with them to help in fight against abuse images.