Staggering 87,000 child sexual abuse webpages have been removed in 15 years by IWF

Posted in: Child Protection&Online Safety at 30/10/2011 15:25

[news release] Today (26 October) the IWF not only marks its annual Awareness Day, but reflects on its 15 years of tackling online child sexual abuse content. Since it was launched on 1 December 1996, the IWF has assessed almost 370,000 webpages.

As a result of the IWF's work with the online industry, the volume of UK-hosted child sexual abuse content has reduced from 18% in 1997 to less than 1% since 2003 and the IWF has kept it that way. Child sexual abuse webpages in the UK are rapidly removed thanks to the responsible actions of the online industry with whom the IWF works.

However there is still a problem with child sexual abuse content hosted around the world.

  • The IWF statistics spanning the past 15 years show 45% of the worldwide webpages assessed and actioned for removal by the IWF featured children aged 10 years and under, including babies.
  • For the past four complete years (2007 to 2010) this figure is 73.5%. This reflects the increasingly extreme nature of the content assessed and actioned by the IWF analysts.
  • Since 1996, 40% of the global child sexual abuse content actioned by the IWF involves the rape and sexual torture of children.

For the past four complete years (2007 to 2010) this figure is 53.5%.

Today the online industry, Government and the IWF's partners will reflect on the work of the IWF over its first 15 years with an event in Westminster. It is timed to complement the IWF's annual Awareness Day when IWF members publicise the IWF Hotline to their users, customers and staff so that the public know how to report images of child sexual abuse, should they inadvertently stumble across them online.

The IWF is the UK reporting Hotline for images of child sexual abuse hosted anywhere in the world and UK-hosted extreme adult pornography and non-photographic images of child sexual abuse. It is an independent self-regulatory body which was set up and funded by the online industry and the EU. It has more than 100 members.

Over the past 15 years, most people (54%) who made a report to the IWF have chosen to leave their details in order to receive feedback on what has happened with the suspect content they reported, and whether it does in fact contravene UK law. The IWF also enables the public to make reports anonymously.

All reports to the IWF are assessed by a team of analysts who have an exemption within the law to enable them to view potentially criminal content. When child sexual abuse content is found and hosted within the UK, it is shared with the police and removed within hours thanks to the responsible actions of the online industry.

When it is hosted abroad, it is shared with a corresponding Hotline in the host country and with law enforcement.

While actions to remove the content are in progress, the IWF updates its URL list of child sexual abuse content which the online industry voluntarily deploys to protect their customers from stumbling across the content. This list is updated twice daily to ensure the URLs which contain child sexual abuse material remain on the list until the content is removed.

Since 2004 when the list was first made available, cumulatively almost 63,000 URLs have been added to the list. Typically the list contains around 500 URLs each day, which is a reduction from 1,200 URLs a day two years ago. This is because the content is removed more quickly making the list more dynamic in nature.

IWF Chief Executive Susie Hargreaves said: "To assess more than 370,000 webpages is incredible and the IWF is proud to have played its part nationally and internationally to remove images of child sexual abuse.

"Although we've had tremendous success domestically, child sexual abuse content on the internet is a problem the IWF and the industry are eager to tackle wherever it is hosted. With the industry and partner Hotlines' support we've been able to remove 87,000 webpages containing some of the worst content depicting the rape and sexual torture of young children and babies.

"Preventing the revictimisation of those children and protecting the public from stumbling across this horrific content is our priority.

"Through working with the online industry and our partners we've been able to grow and adapt in order to meet this challenge and we will continue to adapt to tackle this global problem."

Home Office Minister for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire said: "We must never forget that behind every computer image is a real child victim.

"Over the last 15 years the IWF has done fantastic work to help rid the web of large amounts of illegal and deeply disturbing content. As the IWF's figures show we can never be complacent.

"The strength of the IWF approach is working in partnership with the internet industry, government, the police, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and, most importantly, the public themselves. We must continue that work together."
www.iwf.org.uk/about-iwf/news/post/311-a-staggering-87000-child-sexual-abuse-webpages-have-been-removed-in-15-years-thanks-to-the-work-of-the-iwf

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