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UK government praises work of Internet watchdog

Thumbs up for anti-porn body

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The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a self-regulating body set up in 1996 to address the problem of illegal material on the Internet, has been given a pat on the back by the UK government after a review of the organisation's activities. A joint initiative by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Home Office "commends the success of the IWF" for its work, especially in the fight against child pornography, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the material assessed by the IWF. It also said the IWF has played a leading role in developing rating and filtering systems for Internet content that, although legal, may be regarded as harmful or offensive. Although the review is broadly supportive of the work done by the IWF it does make a number of recommendations to help the organisation keep pace with developments on the Net. Among them, it calls for the IWF to raise its profile and to sign up more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to join its initiative. It also wants the IWF to step up its work on potentially illegal adult pornography and to start targeting other illicit activities such as financial scams, copyright infringement and racism. "The government is committed to taking effective action to tackle child pornography," said Home Office Minster Kate Hoey. "The report shows that the IWF has made an important contribution, responding to real and major public concerns about the abuse of the Internet, and I welcome its continued efforts, with the support of the police, service providers and the public, in removing this vile material," she said. A spokesperson for the IWF was unavailable for comment but a representative of the UK-based Internet Service Provider's Association (ISPA) said he was pleased with the findings in the report and that IWF would remain self-regulated. ®

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