In addition to the IWF’s procedures for effecting the removal of specific newsgroups postings containing child sexual abuse content, the IWF Board has approved a policy to combat paedophilic content in newsgroups:
In November 2012, the Board adopted an updated newsgroups policy, which amalgamated two previous policies (Newsgroup content and Newsgroup Names). This policy sets out the principles on which the IWF will take action against newsgroups. The policy covers take-down notices, newsgroup names, monitoring and listing. The aim of the policy refresh was to develop a more robust framework for dealing with child sexual abuse content on newsgroups and simplify the process.
When a report is received about a newsgroup that we are not aware of, the newsgroup is assessed to decide whether it should be added to the monitoring process. The name of the newsgroup is the first thing that is assessed to determine whether or not it meets the criteria for an advert for child sexual abuse. If a newsgroup does not meet the threshold required for monitoring, then any actionable content is dealt with by issuing a notice and take-down.
Newsgroup monitoring process
When a newsgroup enters a monitoring process, actionable content is dealt with by issuing take down notices. The aim is to clear the newsgroup of actionable content, so that in the following month when it is due for review, only new content is assessed. Newsgroups are monitored on a monthly basis and only when actionable content has not been discovered for three successive months is the group removed from monitoring.
The newsgroup name is tested against the legal advice to see if it meets the criteria for an advert of Child Sexual Abuse content under the Protection of Children Act (1978). The newsgroup name is then either accept or rejected by the hotline manager for inclusion in the advert list. Once a year all newsgroups in the Advert List are checked to see if they are no longer carried by newsfeed providers, in which case they are removed from the advert list.
As part of this policy development, the IWF received advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and our own independent Counsel. This legal advice will be reviewed once every five years to ensure that the IWF is complying with the relevant legislation and case law.
The IWF continues to provide our members with updated data on a monthly basis about newsgroups that meet the above criteria. Many UK ISPs go much further than the IWF’s Board recommendations via their own company policies which restrict the newsgroups they carry.