MEP visits Europe’s largest Hotline on mission to prevent ‘scourge’ of online child sexual abuse imagery

Published:  Wed 7 Dec 2022

MEP Javier Zarzalejos has visited the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) on a fact-finding mission for the European Parliament.

The IWF is Europe’s largest Hotline dedicated to finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet. It is one of only two civil organisations in the world that is legally allowed to actively search for this type of criminal content.

The European Commission has recently proposed legislation to prevent and tackle child sexual abuse material online and MEP Zarzalejos is on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee which is currently reviewing the draft proposal.

The visit was an opportunity to find out more about how the IWF works and how it collaborates with partner organisations and law enforcement in Europe and around the world to block and take down horrific images of abuse and rape as quickly as possible.

Attendees included Emilio Puccio, Secretary General of the European Parliament’s Child Rights Intergroup and Christian Papaleontiou, Deputy Director at the UK Home Office.

IWF Chief Executive Susie Hargreaves OBE, said: “Since 1996, the IWF has helped to remove millions of child sexual abuse images and videos from the internet. And it is only through partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organisations that we have been able to do so.

“Child sexual abuse material on the internet is a global issue and children around the world continue to face the risk of online predators who will stop at nothing to find ways to create, share and profit from their exploitation and violation.

“It is vital that we continue to have ongoing and fruitful engagement with governments, civic organisations and the tech industry to discuss how to tackle this appalling, and unfortunately, ever-increasing threat to children, and the IWF was delighted to share our knowledge and expertise with MEP Zarzalejos.”

MEP Javier Zarzalejos said: “I met with the IWF and officials from the British Home Office to discuss the strategy to combat paedophile content online.

“In the European Union we have begun to discuss the proposal for a regulation to prevent and combat this scourge. The British experience and the actions of organisations such as IWF are very useful for us to define the most effective legal instruments.”

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