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Global cash injection takes battle to end online child sexual abuse imagery to the next level

The Fund to End Violence Against Children has awarded the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the UK based international online safety charity, a grant to set up 30 Reporting Portal solutions in some of the world’s least developed countries.

Image of children on beach

In an historic move, the funding will enable countries to provide a quick and easy way for their web users to safely and anonymously report disturbing online images and videos of child sexual abuse.

The grant is being announced today (Tuesday 14 November, 2017). However, work is already well under way with the first country in this innovative project, The United Republic of Tanzania, launching their IWF Reporting Portal back in October 2017.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said: “At the Internet Watch Foundation, we gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided for this ground-breaking programme by the Fund to End Violence Against Children.

“Child sexual abuse imagery is an international problem and we can only fight it with a truly global solution. We believe that every citizen, wherever they live in the world, deserves the right to be safe online. And, as a fundamental right, every victim of child sexual abuse deserves to be able to live free from the torment of knowing images of their abuse could be shared online.”

IWF Reporting Portals have already been successfully established in 17 countries and territories across the world, including Uganda, India and Namibia. The United Republic of Tanzania brings that number to 18, with the Mozambique Reporting Portal due to launch next.

“Parents, governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and the business community are increasingly aware of this growing global threat to our children’s safety, but the situation keeps worsening,” said Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and its associated Fund.

“It’s a crisis affecting all countries, including the world’s least developed. The IWF Reporting Portals provide a solution for anyone with an internet connection to take action and help keep our children safe.”

The programme is due to be rolled out over three years and will be focused on some of the least developed countries in the world, including East, Central, West and Southern Africa, Central America and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Jenny Thornton, IWF International Development Manager said: “There is a global disparity in the availability of mechanisms for tackling child sexual abuse imagery online. To address this unevenness, in a world where child sexual abuse imagery online is a crime that disregards international borders, we are dedicated to equipping the least developed countries with a Reporting Portal. It’s important to do this now, before these countries are targeted because of their vulnerability.”

What is an IWF Reporting Portal?

Each Reporting Portal uses the existing and world-class Hotline service of the IWF. The IWF helps people who stumble across online child sexual abuse images and videos to report them anonymously online, and uses highly-trained Hotline analysts to assess reported material against UK law. The Hotline then works directly with the internet industry and law enforcement, to have the illegal abusive imagery removed quickly.

The advantage of establishing an IWF Reporting Portal in countries without reporting mechanisms is that any reports of suspected online child sexual abuse imagery will be assessed directly by one of IWF’s analysts quickly and acted upon immediately, if it is found to be illegal. These analysts are respected globally for their ability to assess a webpage every 5 minutes, and to find a webpage showing a child being sexually abused every 9 minutes. Since the IWF was established in 1996, the Hotline analysts have manually process 872,123 reports and confirmed 354,886 as child sexual abuse material.

These staggering statistics means that the IWF Hotline provides one of the most successful reporting mechanisms in the world. When the charity was founded 20 years ago, 18% of the world’s online child sexual abuse imagery was hosted in the UK. Thanks to IWF analysts, that figure is now less than 1%. These analysts are considered world-leaders for their expertise.

Watch our short video which explains what the IWF Reporting Portal is and how it works.

 

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Notes to editors:

Contact: IWF Communications Team +44 (0) 1223 203030, +44 (0) 7929 553679, or +44 (0) 7377 727058.

The Fund to End Violence to Children:

The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and its associated Fund accelerate actions to realise the commitments made in the SDGs by supporting those working to prevent and respond to violence, protect childhood and make societies safe for the world’s most precious asset – its children. A multi-donor trust fund has been created to support activities to achieve the vision of the Partnership – a world in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation. The Fund aims to prove through ‘catalytic’ investment that evidence based programming yields tangible results and there is an ‘investment case’ to be made. Internet Watch Foundation is one of the Fund’s initial grantees focusing on online child sexual exploitation. The grant amount will total $448,875 (US dollars).

The Fund to End Violence to Children, +1 212 824 6133 or relouerchefani@unicef.org

For more information www.end-violence.org

About IWF:

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.

Real images, real children:

Behind each and every image, there is a real child victim. We know that every single time an image or video of a victim is viewed, this child is re-victimised. We’re here to stop that, for good. IWF offers a safe and secure place for the public to report suspected child sexual abuse material.

The IWF team of expert analysts assess every single report made to our Hotline. IWF assessments are accurate and trusted by the police and the internet industry around the globe.

Each week, they manually assess more than 1,000 webpages. Each webpage may contain one or thousands of images of child sexual abuse.

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.

Case study: The Reporting Portal in The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea were among the first to set up an IWF Portal in 2016. We worked with law enforcement, Government, Internet Service Providers and the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) to protect their 60,000 citizens from child sexual abuse imagery online.

After the launch of the Reporting Portal, The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service asked the IWF to help analyse websites found on a suspect’s phone. The Intelligence Analyst in the Cayman Islands working on the case, saved valuable police investigation time by having IWF analysts review 47 of the websites found on the phone, two of which we hadn’t seen before.

Some of the sites showed child sexual abuse material and included “Disguised websites”. Disguised websites can look like legal adult content, unless you follow a specific and predetermined pathway to access the site, which will then open up illegal content. People use this method to make it difficult to find and investigate criminal images.

The Cayman Island Intelligence Analyst was later trained by IWF analysts on how to identify and analyse these sites for future cases. The IWF supported her investigation, which led to the defendant being prosecuted for a number of child sexual abuse offences. He was imprisoned for 12 years.

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