IWF Annual Report 2014

14 Apr 2015 UK SIC

Today, partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), have issued their annual report, revealing that their ability to actively seek out child sexual abuse content online saw a 137% increase in identified child sexual abuse imagery last year.

The change, which was given in April 2014, meant the IWF was able to assist with the removal 31,266 URLs of child sexual abuse last year, compared to 13,182 in 2013

As IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves, said: “Our ability to actively seek out child sexual abuse imagery created a significant step-change in the effectiveness of the IWF.

“We have a mission to protect victims of sexual abuse from having their images repeatedly viewed. The more content we can identify and work with others to get removed, the bigger the benefit to those victims.”

The IWF which was set up in 1996, is the UK’s Hotline for reporting child sexual abuse imagery online and is funded by 117 companies and organisations (https://www.iwf.org.uk/members/current-members). It takes reports of suspected criminal content from the public, which includes members of the public, police officers and IT professionals.  It is also the only Hotline in the world with the ability to actively seek out child sexual abuse content. 

Launching its trends and analysis report on the global picture of child sexual abuse image distribution online, the IWF revealed that the global speed at which child sexual abuse imagery is being removed also increased last year, meaning victims’ images which had been identified globally, had a shorter life-span online.

After 10 days:

  • 91% of URLs are removed within Europe (86% in 2013);
  • 72% of URLs are removed within North America (68% in 2013);
  • 50% of URLs are removed from other locations around the world (44% in 2013).

Alongside the report the IWF also launched a drive to encourage more online companies to step up and do the right thing regarding child sexual abuse images online.

As Susie Hargreaves continued: ““We are also here to help the internet industry from being abused and the online industry in the UK and increasingly, globally, is really stepping up to help us remove this imagery but we know there are many more companies who are either yet to recognise they have an issue, or are being too slow to respond.

“It is not good enough for those companies to allow the burden of responsibility to fall on a socially responsible few. This year we will ensure they are armed with the knowledge, information and support they need to protect themselves and benefit all internet users and victims of sexual abuse.”

This comes after the report revealed many legitimate online services are abused by those wishing to distribute child sexual abuse imagery.

  • Image hosting services (where users can upload images and make them available via a unique URL) were most abused last year (from 5,594 URLs in 2013 to 19,710 URLs in 2014).
  • File host, or cyberlockers (which are online file hosting services, cloud storage services or online file storage providers) saw a 299% increase in abuse last year, compared to 2013 (from 1,400 URLs in 2013 to 5,582 URLs in 2014).

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