The report acknowledges the IWF plays a central role in this area, and said the Government needs to provide more clarity about how Ofcom will work with organisations like the IWF.
The report reads: “The IWF made a persuasive case that they should be co-designated by Ofcom to regulate CSEA content, an argument supported by the CPS and by TalkTalk.
“Ofcom mentioned the need to have a ‘strong partnership’ with ‘third-sector organisations like the IWF’ but no formal arrangement has been made, reflecting the general lack of clarity on co-designation discussed above.”
The report continues: “The IWF specialises in tackling online CSEA material hosted anywhere in the world and non-photographic CSEA images hosted in the UK.
“In 2020, the UK’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse described it as a ‘genuine success story’ which ‘deserves to be publicly acknowledged as a vital part of how and why comparatively little child sexual abuse is hosted in the UK’.”
The report notes that working with child sexual abuse material is “far outside Ofcom’s normal duties”, and that the Committee expects Ofcom to “work closely with experts like the Internet Watch Foundation, to develop and update the child sexual exploitation and abuse Code of Practice; monitor providers to ensure compliance with the child sexual exploitation and abuse code; and during investigations relating to child sexual exploitation and abuse content.”
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “Already this year we have taken action against a record-breaking 200,000 reports, equating to millions and millions of images and videos of child sexual abuse which we have worked to have removed from the internet.
“The Joint Committee has recognised our unparalleled expertise in tackling this material – acknowledging how the Bill will be enhanced by our inclusion as a co-designated body.
“Now we need the Government to give more details of how they expect regulation to be shared by Ofcom and groups like the IWF. This legislation needs to be effective from day one. If it is not, it is vulnerable children who will suffer.
“We stand ready to support Ofcom and the Government to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”
The full report is available here.