IWF 'leading the fight' as study finds UK is world leader in online safety innovation

Published:  Wed 27 May 2020

The IWF is “leading the fight” and has helped “radically reduce” the amount of child sexual abuse material on the internet as a new study finds the UK is the world leader in online safety innovation.

An independent study, Safer technology, safer users: The UK as a world leader in Safety Tech, has found there has been “significant growth” within the UK’s safety tech sector, with the number of dedicated online safety firms doubling in the last five years.

This, the report says, is an important step in Government plans to make UK the safest place in the World to be online.

The report says organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation, the UK charity responsible for finding and removing online child sexual abuse material, are ”leading the fight” against online criminals.

According to the report: “The IWF is a unique organisation in the fight against illegal content online, as it works closely with Government, industry, internet companies, social media, and law enforcement to actively trace, locate, and remove content.”

"The IWF have helped to radically reduce the volume of child sexual abuse content hosted in the UK, and continue to lead the fight.”

It continues: “Through working alongside a range of organisations responsible for network infrastructure, including ISPs, domains, filterers, hosting, search engines, social media, gaming, and mobile operators  - the IWF have helped to radically reduce the volume of child sexual abuse content hosted in the UK, and continue to lead the fight.”

When the IWF was set up in 1996, the UK hosted 18% of all known child sexual abuse material on the internet. Today that has been pushed down to less than half a percent, thanks in part to the work IWF analysts do finding and removing content quickly. 

Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the IWF said: “The UK really is leading the way in this field, and this report is testament to the rock-solid resolve of industry, Government, and law enforcement to make the internet a safer place.

“Criminals must have nowhere to hide, and everyone must do their part to protect the victims of these crimes and make sure the internet is a safe and welcoming place for all.

“Under our watch, UK hosting of child sexual abuse material has been virtually wiped out. But we need, as a country, to face up to the fact there are people in the UK who are watching and sharing this material.

“We can all do our bit to fight against the spread of this content, and we urge people to report videos or images of children suffering sexual abuse to us so we can have them removed for good.”

Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage, said: “We are all spending more time online during the pandemic and this new report shows the value the safety tech sector could add as we look to power growth out of it.

“Its innovative products, many of which are developed in towns and cities across the country, are being used globally to help companies make their online platforms safer.

“The government is leading the world developing online harms laws and it’s great to see our brilliant British tech industry is part of the solution.”

Anyone who stumbles across child sexual abuse material online can report it anonymously to the IWF at https://report.iwf.org.uk/en

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