Three children playing in room

URL List

Protect your customers, staff & platform from websites showing the graphic sexual abuse of children with our URL List.

It’s a frightening reality that the development of the internet has made it easier for heartless perpetrators to abuse children. They cloak themselves in the anonymity of the web. They groom youngsters, manipulating innocent minds. They sexually abuse children, from babies to teenagers, then share a recording of the torture online.

We are fighting back. Our URL List is a vital tool in this battle. The tech community that uses our List to protect customers, staff and services trust our assessments, experience and knowledge. They’re partners in our mission to defend children online.

Our dynamic URL List provides a comprehensive list of webpages where we’ve confirmed images and videos of child sexual abuse. Since each URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a unique webpage address, we can be precise about the exact location of the criminal imagery to ensure we never over-block a legitimate website.

All IWF Members can use this List, under licence, so that they can block access to these criminal webpages. While access to the images and videos is blocked, we work to have the actual picture or video removed from the internet.

The addresses included on our List are at URL (webpage) or image level, rather than domain level. And we update it twice a day, adding new URLs as our analysts find them and removing URLs that no longer contain the criminal content. This means that our dynamic List is precise and networks aren’t over-blocked. The only images included are criminal and they’ve been individually assessed by one of our world class analysts. Only if an entire website is dedicated to confirmed child sexual abuse will we block at domain level.

The tech community using our List are doing the right thing. Sadly, we know there are huge numbers of criminal images of children being sexually abused on the open internet. We count horrific pictures in hundreds of thousands.

Figures are shocking, but they don’t tell the whole story. Each image is a real child. Sometimes their torture has been requested by a perpetrator. Sometimes victims have endured the agony of abuse for years. Even after the physical torment has ended, survivors can be haunted by the knowledge that a record of their suffering is being viewed and downloaded. It’s a living hell.

Accidentally stumbling on one of these terrible images online can be traumatic for an ordinary internet user, or tech community worker. The emotional and legal dangers of seeing a criminal photograph of a child are far reaching.

That’s why our URL is proving a vital tool in the battle to defend both survivors of abuse, children and all internet users online.

Why use the IWF URL List?

  1. Our URL List is dynamic. It’s updated twice a day, adding new confirmed criminal URLs as soon as our analysts find them. Once the criminal imagery has been removed, they take the URL off the List which prevents the over-blocking of legitimate sites.
  2. Our analysts manually assess every URL on the List. Human eyes check and double check each and every image or video. We are 100% confident in our assessments.
  3. We are one of the only organisations in the world actively searching for online criminal URLs. The tech community knows that our analysts are always actively looking for new criminal imagery for our Members to block.
  4. Our URL List helps protect customers and staff from accidentally viewing criminal imagery of children. This helps prevent the emotional legacy of seeing pictures of abuse.

URL List policy

URL Blocking Good Practice

URL blocking FAQs

The URL List in 2020

147,232 Total number of URLs included on the List in 2020
519 Average number of URLs added to the List each day
14%
Increase in number of URLs on 2019
5747 Average total number of URLs on the List each day

How do IWF Members use our URL List?

  • To block access to criminal imagery at a network level. Access to known criminal webpages showing confirmed child sexual abuse can be blocked at network level, while we work to have them removed.
  • For filtering. Our URL List can be included in filtering solutions, so tech companies can protect customers from accidentally accessing these pages.
  • To prevent indexing by search engines. Search providers can use our List to stop these pages from being indexed, so that they don’t show up in search results.

Companies who could help fight online child sexual abuse by using our List include:

  • Internet service providers (ISPs)
  • Filtering services providers
  • Search providers
  • Internet security providers
  • Hosting service providers
  • Registrars
  • Other organisations involved in internet, communications or network security.

When the URL List is deployed by a technology company, it prevents people from stumbling across known – and available – images or videos of children being sexually abused. In tandem, we recommend that companies show a “splash page” or information page in the event that someone tries to access a webpage which is on our List. This tells people why they can’t access the webpage and where they can go for help should they be worried about their online behaviour.

Since 2015, splash pages have resulted in 26,000 new users coming through to the Stop It Now! Get Help website.

Get in touch

To find out more about our URL List email members@iwf.org.uk, call +44 (0)1223 20 30 30 or complete our membership enquiry form.

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