17 Apr 2008
Organisation calls for international partnerships to be mobilised to take up the challenge
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Annual Report 2007, published 17 April 2008, reveals new intelligence regarding the scale of publicly available child sexual abuse websites known to the IWF. Whilst it is very rare to trace these websites to the UK, the IWF has identified a core of 2755 websites hosted abroad during 2007; this total number has remained relatively static for three years and represents a concrete target which can be tackled through international partnerships.
This target is characterised by websites, 80% of which are commercial operations, which frequently hop host company and region to avoid detection. These tactics, coupled with the complex multi-national nature of the crimes, mean that only a united global response involving law enforcement authorities, governments and the international online sector will enable effective investigation of these websites, their content and the organisations behind them.
Peter Robbins OBE, QPM, Chief Executive - Internet Watch Foundation
“We believe that speculative figures can create a distorted picture of the scale of the problem of child sexual abuse websites. This year we have highlighted what we believe is a manageable number worldwide of such websites, known to us. We hope that this revelation and the analysis and intelligence behind the numbers will lead to a better understanding of the issue and justify the need for more international partnerships to pool resources and thinking in order to find solutions: a coordinated global attack on these websites could get these horrific images removed from the web and those responsible investigated.”
The IWF tracks and records the movements of child sexual abuse websites to assist investigations and content removal around the world. Less than 1% of child sexual abuse content has been hosted in the UK since 2003 as a result of the IWF’s universal ‘notice and take-down’ arrangements with host companies and internet service providers in this country. In response to such content hosted around the world, the IWF’s provision of a list of child sexual abuse websites hosted abroad to online companies enables blocking measures to be deployed to protect UK internet users from accidental exposure. The IWF model relies on self-regulation and such success has been achieved through a partnership approach with funding and support from the online industry.
- A worldwide public/private partnership to investigate, disrupt and remove websites that hop server and region and identification of the distributors of this content;
- Increased sharing of good practice between INHOPE Hotlines and industry to remove content quickly to ensure the longevity of these websites is diminished;
- Wider adoption of an initiative to protect internet users by blocking access to child sexual abuse websites;
- International effort by domain name registries and relevant authorities to de-register domains associated with child sexual abuse.
Please note that "child pornography" and "child porn" are not acceptable terms. The use of such language acts to legitimiseimages which are not pornography, rather, they are permanent records of children being sexually abused and, as such, should be referred to as child sexual abuse images.