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Deal on table to protect India’s online citizens

31 July: The Indian Government’s deadline approaches to ensure every Indian internet user is protected from child sexual abuse images and videos online.

Image children and adult hands

A deal to implement a global protection tool in India has been offered to the country’s top five internet gateways and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) URL List prevents online citizens from stumbling across known child sexual abuse images and videos. By offering the tool to the companies which deliver all of India’s internet capability, it means all ISPs in India, and therefore all online citizens, will benefit from protection.

It demonstrates to the world India’s stance to protect its citizens, and prevents the re-victimisation of children whose sexual abuse images are circulating on the internet.

The five ISPs who have been approached to implement the solution are Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Globalcom, Sify Technologies and BSNL.

IWF URL List

The IWF is a not-for-profit organisation. Its URL List is a dynamic list of live URLs (individual webpages) that contain online child sexual abuse imagery. Companies which use this list can block access to those webpages while IWF and global partners work to get them removed from the internet, at source. At any time, the IWF URL list contains between 2,500 and 5,000 individual URLs. One URL (webpage) can contain from 1, to thousands of images and videos of child sexual abuse. The URL list is manually checked and updated twice a day, and downloaded by over 65 global companies daily, and deployed across the world. To maintain its security, access to the IWF URL list is strictly controlled by a licencing agreement.

31 July 2017

On 18 April 2017, the Government of India issued an order in relation to the ‘measures to curb online child sexual abuse material (CSAM)’ in which they require all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to adopt and implement IWF’s URL List to prevent the distribution and transmission of online child sexual abuse material into India. This comes into force on 31 July 2017.

There are millions of internet-enabled citizens in India, and thousands of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). To protect all Indian citizens, and India’s internet in the most cost-effective, and efficient way, IWF has offered the URL List to India’s five ‘gateway’ companies, some of whom are also ISPs. This means that all other ISPs in India will be protected with the URL List.

IWF does not sell services, but offers membership ranging from £1,020, to £78,030 and the fees are set by the internet industry and based upon a company’s ability to pay. Once in membership, companies have access to all IWF services, expertise and benefits. The IWF is not run for profit.

Each of the five identified companies in India will be charged the same as any size-and-profit-comparable company, which is £78,030. However, IWF is offering a membership fee of £50,000 for the first year. Once in membership, they have access to multiple services, tools, expertise and benefits, as well as the globally-trusted URL List. It also means India’s entire internet network will be protected.

Reporting Hotline

The pioneering move of the Indian Government to offer protection to its online citizens follows the unveiling of India’s first reporting portal for online child sexual abuse imagery in September last year.

Aarambh India and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) partnered to set-up the first reporting portal of its kind in India. The Reporting Portal is available in both English and Hindi, and can be accessed here: http://aarambhindia.org/report. If a web user in India stumbles across an image of a child being sexually abused, they can report what they’ve seen in five simple steps.

The report is then assessed by an expert analyst from the IWF Hotline team, based in the UK. If the image or video is illegal, the analyst will use a global network of partners to get that content taken down.

 

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: “I commend the Indian Government’s leadership in securing a safer internet for its citizens. All online citizens deserve to be protected from some of the most distressing images and videos online. We’re able to provide the means to do this. By working with just the five top gateways and ISPs in India, it will safeguard the entire network for the benefit of all.

“To date, progress with these companies is very slow and the deadline is looming. We’re open and willing to work as quickly as possible with all companies identified as it’s of the utmost importance for the protection of India’s online citizens.

“IWF is a not-for-profit organisation and we’ve worked with internet companies tackling child sexual abuse imagery for more than 20 years. We’re proud to offer our expertise to India as part of our expanding work across the globe.”

Becky Foreman, Microsoft UK Corporate Affairs Director, said: “Microsoft has been a Member of IWF for more than 16 years. It’s an invaluable partnership which clearly demonstrates our stance on online safety.

“The impact of their work is incredible but there’s clearly a lot to be done, particularly from a global point of view. I’d recommend any company which provides services over the internet to do the right thing and work with IWF.”

Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT said: “BT has always taken a leadership position in supporting the work of IWF to benefit the internet industry globally.

“Child sexual abuse imagery is a critical issue. If the industry does not play a role in ensuring good governance of the internet there’s a risk that everything that is good about the internet will be offset by this exploitation.

“I would encourage any company which is providing services over the internet, particularly if children are involved, to be a member of IWF.”


ends

 

Notes to editors:

Contact:

Emma Hardy, Director of External Relations emma@iwf.org.uk +44 (0) 1223 203030 or +44 (0) 7929 553679.

Aarambh India contact: Siddharth Pillai, Communications Manager +91 22 23099865

What is the Internet Watch Foundation?

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) works internationally to make the internet a safer place. We help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. We search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously (iwf.org.uk/report). We then have them removed. We supply cutting-edge tools and services to internet companies to protect citizens around the world from seeing child sexual abuse material, and preventing the revictimization of child sexual abuse survivors whose images are shared and traded online.

We’re a not-for-profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission.

What we do:

We make the internet a safer place. We help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. We search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously. We then have them removed. We’re a not for profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission.

For more information please visit www.iwf.org.uk.

The IWF is part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, working with Childnet International and the South West Grid for Learning to promote the safe and responsible use of technology.

The IWF works globally to stop child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. If you ever stumble across a sexual image or video of someone you think is under 18, please report to the IWF. Reporting can be done anonymously and confidentially – we don’t need your details, just your help.

Who are Aarambh India and IWF?

Aarambh India is an initiative of the Mumbai based NGO Prerana and Hong Kong based ADM Capital Foundation that works to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of children. In 2014 the partners launched www.aarambhindia.org India’s 1st Online resource portal for citizens on child sexual abuse. Through resources on aarambhindia.org, direct interventions with victims, and government advocacy, Aarambh India works with partners to safeguard children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Why is the India Reporting Portal so important?

In 2007, a Government of India report on child sexual abuse found that 4.46% of 12,000 children surveyed said they had been indecently photographed. Between 2013 and 2014, there was a 100% increase in the number of cases filed under ‘publication and transmission of obscene’ material, including child sexual abuse images and videos.[1]

 


[1]National Crime Records Bureau, India

Report here