More than just a Hotline


Data is core to IWF. We take care to collate data conscientiously as part of our work to identify and remove online child sexual abuse images and videos.  

This data enables us to have more impact when it’s made available in the form of analysis, datasets and services to other companies who want to prevent the distribution of this content, as well as for training – training people as well as the safety tech of the future.  

Our work has grown vastly over the years. And so has our expertise.   


Here’s a look into the other areas of specialism within our Hotline:


Proactive searching

We are legally allowed to actively look for child sexual abuse imagery – we’re one of only a few civil sector hotlines in the world that can do this. This means we can find and have removed many more images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet. It is the most efficient way of finding and removing online child sexual abuse material and yet only a limited number of countries allow hotlines to undertake this vital and effective work. 

Child Abuse Image Database

For five years plus, we’ve collaborated with the UK Government’s Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) to support law enforcement and help the tech sector find and remove copies of known child sexual abuse images online. Among many other benefits for children, this collaboration increases our awareness of police-confirmed UK and international child victims of sexual abuse. This means that when we ask industry to take down an image of a confirmed victim, we do so with the weight of law enforcement behind us. This helps to disrupt the distribution of what offenders often call ‘collections’ of sexual abuse imagery of children, who could otherwise be mistaken for adults without police confirmation.

Notice and takedown service

We are global experts in issuing what’s called ‘notice and takedowns’ to secure the removal of child sexual abuse imagery from servers across the world. 


We’ve worked hard over the years to remove imagery of children being sexually abused from these original online forums which were a precursor to the world wide web. No other hotline undertakes this work.  


We developed a bespoke tool to carry out individual image assessments and create hashes enriched with valuable metadata. This work supports our law enforcement partners, helps companies to remove child sexual abuse imagery which is repeatedly shared, and has created a dataset to help train the safety tech of the future.  

Invite Child Abuse Pyramid sites

We were the first to identify this new viral marketing technique used by offenders to distribute commercial child sexual abuse imagery through non-commercial websites. The trend puts more and more internet users at risk of seeing criminal content and we actively work to stop it spreading further.  

Disguised websites

We train other analysts from around the world on how to spot disguised websites – these sites look legal and benefit from legitimate banking services, but hide child sexual abuse content from view unless the user has followed a pre-determined pathway through the internet.  

Assisting law enforcement

We work closely with law enforcement around the world; we can help train officers, provide data, and support with investigations. For example, in June 2023 UK law enforcement investigated a sex offender’s device. The officers contacted us to review several visited websites. We could confirm that these sites were ‘disguised websites’ – websites that contain child sexual abuse material which is hidden, and accessible only via a digital pathway. Providing this sort of intelligence was key to the police investigation.    

In another example, we assisted the Australian Federal Police by providing domain intelligence that enabled the blocking of 10 domains containing more than 900,000 images of child sexual abuse. Since these sites have been blocked, there has been more than 60,000 attempts from over 176 countries to access this material.  

Crypto unit

We have analysts who specialise in how cryptocurrency is abused to monetise child sexual abuse imagery. This enables us to provide high quality data and support to companies working to stop this abuse taking place. Our crypto unit also features in a highly sensitive programme where we regularly work with partners to confirm when crypto currency has been used as a payment type to purchase child sexual abuse material.  

In 2023 we responded to 359 individual requests for further intelligence. In at least one case the intelligence we provided led to the arrest of a sex offender who was attempting to hide his identity and purchases for child sexual abuse material behind cryptocurrency.  

TOR expertise

We venture into the dark web to gain intelligence and insight. We’re also able to have child sexual abuse imagery removed from the dark web if it links to a host on the clear web. Where we can’t get the content removed, we create an intelligence package for the UK’s National Crime Agency.  

Services for companies

We curate our datasets and make them available with the aim of amplifying the impact of our work. We’re able to help companies keep more than four billion accounts and users safer from online child sexual abuse.  

Domain abuse and domain hopping

We track how child sexual abuse websites appear to ‘hop’ around the globe, evading takedowns. We’ve been successful in getting several of these major evaders removed permanently.  

Victim knowledge and identification

We provide intelligence packages to the UK’s National Crime Agency when we see a sexually abused child and enough information which could secure them from harm. We also work with our partners and connections overseas to help establish if a person in an image is a child or an adult. In one example, we proactively contacted a sister hotline when we were unsure of the age of the young person pictured in sexual images. We were connected to the hotline’s local law enforcement agency who provided us with the confirmation we needed; it was a child. We then helped to secure the removal of more than 300 sexual abuse images and 50 videos featuring this child. 

Reporting hubs for children

We provide services to children in the UK and India who want to report and remove sexual images and videos of themselves. We create hashes of this imagery (digital fingerprints to help get this imagery removed) and if the images or videos have been uploaded online, we work to get them removed. 

Hotline chase-ups

To speed up the removal of child sexual abuse imagery, we actively ‘chase up’ our partners when we’ve notified them of criminal imagery being hosted in their territories. This is an additional service we provide to limit the global availability of child sexual abuse imagery. 

Methodology expertise

We routinely record the methods used by abusers and offenders to create child sexual abuse imagery. For example, we explicitly record instances of ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse, sexually coerced extortion and AI-generated child sexual abuse material to help inform our own, and others’, work.  


We often find ourselves as the first to see new ways that children are being sexually abused online. To have the biggest impact on our mission, we need to share our knowledge and expertise with others. In 2023, for example, we authored and shared training modules on Tor and the dark web with the INHOPE network – comprising 50 hotlines – to help increase the amount of child sexual abuse material that we can collectively identify and remove. 

Training of new software / machine learning

Our datasets are vast, and we have the unique ability to store child sexual abuse imagery which we can safely use to help train safety tech of the future.  

Recognised expertise

All 31 members of our Hotline (12 Image Classification Assessors, 13 Internet Content Analysts, one Hotline Manager and five Quality Assurance team members) are certified as nationally recognised accredited graders of indecent images of children by the UK’s College of Policing.  

Additionally, the Hotline Manager, Quality Assurance Manager and a Senior Analyst have each been accredited as Grading Trainers, certified by the UK’s College of Policing, meaning they are nationally recognised as a trainer of child sexual abuse material and can train all future Hotline employees to this certified standard.   

IWF Reporting Portals

Since 2013, we’ve worked with international partners to set up more than 50 Reporting Portals around the world. 

The portals are customised webpages that enable people to make reports of child sexual abuse material online directly to our expert analysts. Reports are assessed against UK law and, if judged to be criminal, steps are taken to have the content removed from the internet. 

This year, we’ve successfully launched a new portal in the Dominican Republic in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office, UNICEF, Plan International and the National Cybersecurity Centre. We’ve also been working with MTN Cameroon, and with the National Child Protection Authority in Sri Lanka (with funding from Save The Children Sri Lanka and ChildFund Sri Lanka) to set up portals in Cameroon and Sri Lanka respectively.  

Launching portals in all three countries will give an additional 60 million people a dedicated place to report suspected online child sexual abuse material, strengthening the global response to online sexual exploitation and abuse of children. 

In March, the IWF and “Stop Sexting”, a child protection NGO, relaunched the Ukraine Reporting Portal. The Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted the country’s efforts to combat online child sexual abuse, putting children at increasing risk of exploitation. The relaunch of the Reporting Portal has helped to ensure that people in Ukraine know how to, and can, report suspected online child sexual abuse material at a time when the police do not always have the capacity or resources to respond.  

To assess the work of the portals and maximise their potential, we have recently secured funding for an independent evaluation from Safe Online. Hopefully, the evaluation will take place during 2024/2025 and will provide insights into how best to tackle online child sexual abuse content on a global scale.