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Just one per cent of illegal online content reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is hosted within the UK.

In contrast, more than half (55 per cent) of child abuse content is hosted in the US while 23 per cent of illegal content is traced to Russia.

The industry-funded organisation claims that its approach to stemming the availability of illegal content on the Net has helped minimise the availability of child abuse images online.

In its 2003 Annual Report the IWF said that less than 1 per cent of potentially illegal content was hosted by UK ISPs, down from 18 per cent back in 1997.

The amount of child abuse content traced to Europe is down from 19 per cent to 6 per cent, said the IWF.

Convinced that the UK's approach to tackling illegal content online is one that works, the IWF has said it would "welcome further international cooperation and consensus on replication the UK model overseas".

Part of this is down to UK ISPs that remove potentially illegal content as soon as they are told of the problem by the industry watchdog. This industry-wide cooperation is also backed the IWF's ability to transfer intelligence and information to law enforcement officials so that they can investigate illegal content.

Despite the improvement to the UK's position, the IWF still reported that the number of reports it receives concerning potentially illegal content was up 9 per cent to 20,000 last year. By 2005 it predicts that it could be handling some 27,000 reports of illegal content.

Said eminister, Stephen Timms: "The IWF has contributed to a dramatic reduction in potentially illegal content in Britain since its inception in 1996. We continue to support its work across international borders by urging other countries to follow this very successful model." ®

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