IWF Response to Prime Minister’s Statement

Published:  Mon 22 Jul 2013

This morning (22 July) the Prime Minister made a statement on government efforts to protect children online. We welcome the Prime Minister making the clear distinction between the fight against online child sexual abuse content and efforts to prevent legal material being viewed by those who are underage. It is critical that these debates are kept separate.

We also welcome the Government re-affirming their commitment to fighting online child sexual abuse content. The UK is setting the tone for the world at tackling this and the IWF is one of the most successful Hotlines globally.

We are particularly supportive of the formation of a new UK-US taskforce to maximise international co-operation fighting this content. Ultimately, the IWF’s vision is the elimination of online child sexual abuse content and any steps to do more to meet this vision is fantastic news for the UK, and the world.  

The Prime Minister is right to identify that creating a safer internet requires a collective effort. Since 1996 we have worked with the internet industry to create services that fight online child sexual abuse content.

Today David Cameron said that less than 1% of online child sexual abuse images are hosted in the UK and this has been one of the principle achievements of the IWF. He also talked about a search term blacklist - IWF provides a Keywords list of known child sexual abuse terms to search engines to filter their results. Currently there are 446 terms on this list relating to child sexual abuse images and videos which are removed from search listings.  

We are continually looking at ways in which to further the fight against online child sexual abuse content. We are working with our Members in the online industry to meet the challenges set by the Secretary of State Maria Miller at a summit in June. These were to ensure the IWF’s funding model is future proofed and that the IWF uses a boost in powers to proactively search the internet for child sexual abuse images.

We look forward to reporting back to the government on the outcome of these in September.

 

Ends

Notes to editors

Contact: Emma Lowther, Director of External Relations, 07929 553679/01223 203030 or media@iwf.org.uk. Twitter:@IWF_Emma.  

Kristof Claesen, Press and Public Affairs Manager, 07976 444164/01223 203030 or media@iwf.org.uk.

About the Internet Watch Foundation

The IWF was established in 1996 by the internet industry to provide the UK internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report criminal online content in a secure and confidential way.

The Hotline service can be used anonymously to report content within our remit:

    child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world;
    criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK;
    non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK.

Success

We help internet service providers and hosting companies to combat the abuse of their networks through our ‘notice and takedown’ service which alerts them to content within our remit so they can remove it from their networks.

We also provide unique data to law enforcement partners in the UK and abroad to assist investigations into the distributors. As a result of this approach the content we deal with has been virtually eradicated from UK networks.

As sexually abusive images of children are primarily hosted abroad, we facilitate the industry-led initiative to protect users from inadvertent exposure to this content by blocking access to it through our provision of a dynamic list of child sexual abuse web pages.

Achievements

    By sharing intelligence with police the IWF aided the identification and rescue of 12 children in the past two years;
    Less than 1% of child sexual abuse content is hosted in the UK since 2003, down from 18% in 1996;
    Child sexual abuse content is removed in the UK typically within 60 minutes;
    Time taken to remove child sexual abuse content hosted outside the UK halved to 10 days in 2011;
    Over 400,000 web pages assessed since 1996;
    100,000 URLs removed for containing criminal content.

Self-regulation

We are an independent self-regulatory body, funded by the EU and the online industry, including internet service providers (ISPs), mobile operators, content  providers, hosting providers, filtering companies, search providers, trade associations and the financial sector. Our self-regulatory partnership approach is widely recognised as a model of good practice in combating the abuse of technology for the dissemination of criminal content.

Sharing Good Practice

We work with UK government to influence initiatives developed to combat online abuse and this dialogue goes beyond the UK and Europe to promote greater awareness of global issues, trends and responsibilities.

We work internationally with INHOPE Hotlines and other relevant organisations to encourage united global responses to the problem and wider adoption of good practice in combating child sexual abuse images on the internet.

Tactics

There are a number of tactics carried out by the IWF on a national and, where relevant, international basis which minimise the availability of child sexual abuse content online:

    Reporting mechanism for the public to report any inadvertent exposure to potentially criminal child sexual abuse content;
    ‘Notice and takedown’ system to swiftly remove child sexual abuse content at source in the UK;
    Targeted assessment and monitoring system to remove child sexual abuse content in newsgroups;
    Provision of a child sexual abuse URL list to internet service providers, mobile operators, search providers and filtering providers to help disrupt access to child sexual abuse content which is hosted outside the UK and not yet taken down;
    Working with domain name registries and registrars to deregister domain names dedicated to the distribution of child sexual abuse content.

About Internet Watch Foundation membership

IWF Members have access to a range of services designed to combat online child sexual abuse images and videos. These services help reduce the ability of criminals to exploit legitimate services and speed up the removal of child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world.

The IWF and its Member organisations are committed to the shared vision of an internet free of child sexual abuse content.

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