Catherine Brown named as new IWF Chair

Published:  Mon 27 Nov 2023

The Internet Watch Foundation has named Catherine Brown as its new Independent Chair taking over from Andrew Puddephatt OBE, who has held the position since 2017.

Ms Brown chairs the environmental charity, Hubbub, and the newly established oversight body for bailiffs, the Enforcement Conduct Board.

She is also Senior Independent Director at the Legal Services Board, and has experience of leadership in both the private and public sector, having previously held roles as Director General of the Food Standards Agency, and as Managing Director of part of BUPA. Until recently she was chair of mySociety, the civic technology charity.

Ms Brown joins the IWF at a pivotal moment for children’s online safety, as industry, Government, and civil society work to respond to the passage of the Online Safety Act.

She said: “I am delighted to be joining the Internet Watch Foundation and am so impressed by what they have achieved to date.

“At a most fundamental level, I have dedicated much of my career to incentivising and supporting businesses and people to do the right thing, and I know with the IWF there is such huge potential to really make a difference to millions of young lives.

“This is an historic moment to be starting work with the IWF. As the UK moves to adopt new regulations, the eyes of the world will be on us to see how, as early movers in this space, we can really get a handle on the internet and work for what we all know is possible and necessary – a safer internet for everyone.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, welcomed Ms Brown’s appointment, and paid tribute to her predecessor.

She said: “Andrew has been an exemplary Chair, and someone I have really enjoyed working with on a personal level.

“He’s been right there with us through some historic periods, and times of profound change, including the passage of the Online Safety Act, and the Coronavirus pandemic. We have grown as an organisation, and faced new and evolving challenges like the rise of self-generated child sexual abuse, and the emergence of AI generated imagery.

“And I know Catherine is going to help us go from strength to strength, and to keep fighting to protect children.

“Her commitment, experience, and skills, will help shape how the IWF responds to the evolving threats we encounter online, and will ensure we are always at the forefront in the fight to keep children safe.”

Mr Puddephatt said: “The internet is a very different place from when I first started work with the IWF. The threat facing children online has also changed and become, in many ways, even more insidious and invasive.

“What has remained the same is the determination with which we fight this, and the belief we have that the internet is a force for good which children deserve to have safe and secure access to in order to learn, play, and thrive.

“I believe this is possible, and I believe in the IWF, which I know will never stop until this becomes a reality. I’m very proud to have worked with them for the last six years.”

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