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BT is blocking 35,000 attempts each day by net users trying to access child pornography, the UK's dominant telco said today. The stats from its Cleanfeed web filtering system coincide with Safer Internet Day, a global event designed to promote online awareness.

When BT first launched Cleanfeed in summer 2004, it was blocking around 11,000 attempts a day to access illegal content. Although that figure has risen threefold, experts say the numbers need to be put into perspective.

"As alarming as these figures are, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have been successfully combating child abuse images online for 10 years and as a result just 0.4 per cent of potentially illegal content is apparently hosted in the UK, down from 18 per cent in 1997," the UK internet trade group said in a statement.

BT's Cleanfeed system works by blocking access to several thousand websites on a blacklist compiled by the IWF. Sites on the list contain images of child sexual abuse, which are illegal to view in the UK, under the 1978 Child Protection Act.

IWF chief executive Peter Robbins said: "The increase in BT's figures is consistent with the Internet Watch Foundation's figures, which show the number of 'actioned' reports. That is, reports received from the public via our internet 'hotline' where potentially illegal child abuse content was confirmed rose from 3,438 in 2004 to over 6,000 in 2005.

"We provide a list of these websites to service providers and filtering companies, including ISPs and mobile operators, so that attempts to access these sites can be blocked. Our list is dynamic as it is updated everyday. Of these sites, there is a 50/50 split between pay-per-view and free-to-view sites."

The IWF was formed in 1996 following an agreement between the government, police, and ISPS to tackle the distribution of child abuse images online and operates a 'hotline' in the UK for the people to report illegal content. ®

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