IWF Hotline removes record amount of child sexual abuse depicting under 10s

29 Feb 2024 UK SIC

Younger children are increasingly being groomed and coerced by predators into performing sexually online, warns the global hotline Internet Watch Foundation, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre.

The IWF removed a record-breaking amount of criminal child sexual abuse imagery in 2023 (275,655 webpages). Almost every webpage the team worked to remove (92%) included what has been termed as ‘self-generated’ material, where children have been coerced into performing sexually via a webcam or handheld device. Of these, 42% (107,615) featured children under 10, a 66% increase on the number of webpages seen last year (64,735).

The IWF warns decisions like Meta’s to introduce end-to-end encryption on all of its apps, without considering the introduction of safety measures to prevent the abuse of its services by malicious actors, will put children in danger, as criminals will be able to spread abuse imagery with impunity.

The introduction of end-to-end encryption will prevent Meta from detecting and reporting known child sexual abuse imagery as it did before, as it will be unable to spot criminal material being spread through its channels. Just in 2022, Meta reported over 20 million instances of child sexual abuse image sharing, as recorded by the US hotline NCMEC (National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children). 

Read the full article here.

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