Powering improved tech capabilities

Lloyd Heapy, Head of IT


We’re now able to immediately identify previously-seen images of child sexual abuse, without re-exposing our analysts to the criminal material, thanks to ongoing funding from Nominet.  

Our goal as a tech department is to remove some of the burden from our Hotline analysts while improving the efficiency of how we identify child sexual abuse material. We work to put in place improved systems that complement analysts’ efforts and remove some of the manual work that they do to gather and assess the images and videos. 

This year, funding from Nominet has allowed us to move our internally-developed platforms on to a dedicated, and highly performing server cluster. Known as a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), this solution has given us capabilities which we simply didn’t have the power to run in real time before.  

For example, we have long used a web crawler to search for child sexual abuse content on the internet, but it has always required direction and a manual review of the output. Thanks to the HCI, we can now run live web scraping which is compared against our datasets, enabling the immediate identification of known child sexual abuse material wherever we find it, without human intervention.  

The HCI will further enable advanced capabilities using computer vision that gathers information from images and videos, and machine learning models. The result of this means our expert analysts can focus on the classification and intelligence gathering work that makes our data so effective at tracking and removing child sexual abuse content on the internet. 

The team works incredibly hard to maintain our infrastructure and deliver upgrades such as this HCI cluster alongside our commitments to delivering technical projects for our Members. Their efforts contribute substantially towards the progress of the IWF in achieving its goal to remove all images and videos of child sexual abuse online and they are proud to play their part. 

Nominet is a public benefit company, responsible for the .UK domain, which is a vital part of the internet infrastructure, supporting millions of businesses, organisations and individuals using .UK domains. It funds an ambitious social impact campaign that aims to tackle the challenge of growing up in a digital world, including countering online harm.