Responsible technology companies tackle child sexual abuse images

Published:  Thu 1 Sep 2016

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO

Sharing nude selfies on mobile phones and social media may be fuelling the rise in offences relating to indecent images of children by under 18s. That’s according to the NSPCC who released their findings of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to UK police forces today.

At IWF last year we identified and aided the removal of over 68,000 webpages showing the sexual abuse of children – which was more than double the year before.

NSPCC is calling for internet companies to develop and share technological solutions. This is something I’m proud to say many of our IWF Members already do.

IWF Image Hash List

The IWF Image Hash List stops the upload, sharing and storage of child sexual abuse images. It’s the best technological answer available to ridding the internet of this criminal material. Last year Facebook,Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo! began using it and, in turn, helped develop it.

It is shortlisted for Product of the Year and Innovation of the Year for the 2016 Cloud Hosting Awards.

Tara (not her real name), who was repeatedly abused over a number of years was told by US Law Enforcement that they know of more than 70,000 occasions when images of her had been shared. The Image Hash List can prevent this sharing.

We’ve now started rolling it out to our Members.

Technology companies’ commitment

Any company which funds us directly resources our work to identify and remove child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. There’s those that go further too though. Like when Google gave us a Googler in Residence to build new software with us, or like Microsoft funding on-going research into nude selfies online – research which then informs many stakeholders and online companies of risks and trends in this space.

But there’s always more to be done. All eligible internet companies must use the Image Hash List.

At IWF HQ it says: “To protect the innocence of children is to protect society itself”. The UK leads the world in this work and we must continue this for children around the world.

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