In June 2009 the Ministry of Justice asked us to extend our national Hotline to enable the public to report online non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children, covered by Sections 62 to 69 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
Following consultation with our Funding Council of industry members, in October 2009 the IWF Board informed government of our agreement to fulfil this role from 6 April 2010.
IWF Hotline function
This means the public can report non-photographic visual depictions, such as computer-generated images, of the sexual abuse of children to the IWF if they are on a UK website. The legislation should only catch material which is already illegal to publish here under the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
The IWF will take further action to have this content removed, in partnership with the police and the hosting provider, if it is hosted in the UK and if we consider it meets all three of the following criteria:
1) That the image is pornographic;
2) That the image is grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character;
3) That the image focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region, or portrays any of the following acts:
a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
c) an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
e) the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.
1. Our role regarding non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse, such as computer-generated images, comprises an extension to our remit as follows:
- child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
- non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK.
2. The IWF will only address reports concerning such images when they are hosted on UK websites.
3. On those rare occasions where such images are believed to be criminal and are depicted on a website hosted in the UK we will work in partnership with the hosting provider and the police to remove the content and provide information to assist investigations into its distribution.
4. Our industry members can refer to the IWF as a point of expertise for advice on whether such images on their networks are potentially criminal and should be considered for investigation by the police.
5. The IWF has no role in the direct investigation of those involved in the distribution or possession of this content.
6. IWF analysts train with the police regarding the assessment of potentially criminal content.
If you believe you have stumbled across non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children on a website hosted in the UK, you should report via the IWF’s online reporting form. This service is available from 6 April 2010.
Where potentially criminal non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children are found in hard copy or on a computer it should be reported to the police in the same way as any other criminal offence.
If individuals have concerns about the legality of content they possess they should seek their own legal advice.
This legislation contains defences to cover those who may have contact with the material in the course of their legitimate work.
For information on the Coroners and Justice Bill 2009, see: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/contents
For Schedule 13 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 regarding how this Act applies to providers of information society services, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/schedule/13 .
For information on the legislation itself, please contact the Ministry of Justice press office.
For the IWF original submission to the consultation on the proposal legislation, see IWF response to the Government consultation on the Possession of Non-Photographic Visual Depictions.
About the IWF
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was formed in 1996 following agreement between the government, police, and internet industry that a partnership approach was needed to tackle the online distribution of indecent images of children. Since then support for our work has grown considerably and our members now include internet service providers, mobile phone operators, search providers, filtering and software companies, the financial sector, and others.
The IWF is an independent self-regulatory body. It is governed by a Board of ten Trustees consisting of an Independent Chair, six independent Trustees and three industry Trustees. The Board monitor, review and direct the IWF’s remit, strategy, policy and budget to enable the IWF to achieve its objectives.
We operate an internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report their inadvertent exposure to child sexual abuse content hosted around the world as well as non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children hosted in the UK. We provide a national ‘notice and take-down’ service to any service provider hosting such content in the UK.
Our role is confined to interpreting relevant legislation to ensure potentially criminal online content within our remit is traced, reported, and removed wherever possible. We work in partnership with the internet industry, law enforcement, government and international partners. As a result of this collaborative approach UK-hosted content within our remit has been virtually eradicated.