IWF welcomes progress in the fight against online child sexual abuse content

Published:  Mon 18 Nov 2013

Today (18 November 2013) the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) attended a summit hosted by the Prime Minister Opens in New Window to discuss the fight against online child sexual abuse content.

We welcome today's announcements and all the steps taken by the online industry over the summer to more effectively combat online child sexual abuse images and videos.

IWF CEO, Susie Hargreaves said: “The IWF is a charity with a big mission to eliminate online child sexual abuse content. Only through working with many partners can we achieve this.

“With the support and encouragement from the Government, the IWF and our Members have made progress in leaps and bounds this summer which will have a practical and tangible impact.

“Over the past few months we have observed an unprecedented amount of truly positive and constructive action from Google, Microsoft and the broader industry. These measures will have a significant impact on our ability to tackle child abuse imagery online.

“Everything that Google, Microsoft and wider industry is doing hones in on our core mission of eliminating online child sexual abuse content. It also support and supplements our new way of identifying these images and videos.

“From April, our team of analysts will be proactively seeking child sexual abuse content using their accrued experience and intelligence. This is a new and exciting way for us to be more effective at our core mission.

“To meet this need, we are more than doubling our analyst team and the recruitment of these staff members is well underway. The IWF is also relocating to larger offices to really future-proof our efforts.

“The IWF will also take part in a pilot project with the Home Office, Google, Microsoft and CEOP.  We will be working in partnership to identify pathways to illegal material being shared via torrent feeds and subsequently remove access via the two market leaders in search.

“The job is far from done but it is safe to say we will reflect on this year as one of massive change. Both the IWF and our members have embraced this and I’m eager to see what this will do for the fight to remove some of the worst images and videos online.”
  - ENDS -

Notes to editors

Contact: Emma Lowther, Director of External Relations, 01223 203030/07929 553679  or [email protected]. Twitter:@IWF_Emma.  

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.


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.


    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.


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.


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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