Paedophiles ‘disguise’ child abuse pages as legit websites
Report: Hidden paths lead to vile vids and pics
Child abusers are latching onto new methods to distribute paedophilic material online, according to an annual report by the Internet Watch Foundation.
The study, published on Monday, reports that paedophiles are ‘disguising’ websites to appear as if they host only legitimate content. However, if an internet user follows a particular digital path they will be able to view vile images and videos of children being sexually abused.
The technique, which has many legitimate applications, is also widely used by paedophiles. IWF experts encountered the tactic nearly 600 times last year. None of the websites in question were hosted in the UK.
Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, explained: "We received reports to our Hotline by online users who have stumbled across these sites. They pose challenges because when the website is accessed directly, only legal content appears.
"However, the reports we receive by the public can be quite detailed and these reporters were sure of what they had seen. Our analysts investigated further and discovered a legitimate web development technique was being used to disguise the website from all those who had not followed a particular digital path to access it.
"Clearly, ordinary online users had still found this content and we’ve been working with analysts in our sister hotlines and with our members to tackle this issue.”
Child abuse portals are using the technique because it masks the true purpose of a site from those who have not followed the correct page path. Secondly, the approach allows commercial child sexual abuse peddlers to use services from legitimate hosting firms.
The IWF also reports that the hosting industry is getting faster at removing paedophile material from its networks. The tiny amount of abusive content hosted on UK networks is typically removed within 60 minutes of notification.
Two years ago the IWF challenged itself to speed up the removal of child sexual abuse content hosted outside the UK. Such content is more likely to feature younger children, and more likely to show the most depraved content featuring sexual activity between adults and children, rape and sexual torture.
Around half of all child sexual abuse images and videos hosted outside of the UK are removed within 10 days. In 2008 they typically stayed available for more than a month. The report shows that IWF members are able to remove child sexual abuse content around 40 per cent more quickly than non-members. In cases where child sexual abuse content is hosted by an IWF member, most (85 per cent) is removed within 10 days and almost all (95 per cent) is removed within 13 days.
Identifying new victims
IWF analysts are able to identify new images of sexual abuse and subsequently alert police to youngsters who may not be known to them but are potentially at immediate risk. Three children who were being sexually abused were rescued during 2011 thanks to information sharing between the IWF and the the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
One child was traced to Sweden, where she was being abused by a relative who subsequently uploaded images of the abuse online. Another two at-risk children were traced to addressees within the UK and also rescued from their abusers.
In total seven children have been rescued since information-sharing arrangements between the IWF and CEOP were put in place two years ago. ®
Do you have children?
A UK news item I read recently told the sad tale of a community-minded man reporting a stumbled-on paedo site. His laptop has been confiscated and he is subject to an order that he is not allowed to be alone with his daughter. I expect he will be exonerated one day.
He might be able to afford a new laptop. The damage done to himself and his relationship with a little girl who is, somehow, supposed to understand why she suddenly needs protection from her harmless dad is unimaginable.
We need Social Services. Children need them. Could they please, though, take off the hobnail boots. I don't imagine that anyone who read that item would be inclined to do the right thing in these circumstances in the future.
Re: I have never understood how peadophillia can exist.
> Child abuse can never be.
Whilst that is true, the definition of "child" - and therefore "child abuse" - does rather depend on where you are.
If you have sex with a 13-year old in the UK, that's child abuse. The same occurrence in Japan is probably lawful. In many European countries, sex with a 14-year old may be lawful.
In Saudi Arabia, there is no age of consent - the requirement is only that the couple be married, and there is no legal age limit on marriage.
So whilst it is right to get hot under the collar about children being abused, we do need to realise that *our* definition of same might not tally well with someone else's defnition.
Re: A sense of perspective?
This was touched upon in the book 'Freakonomics'. The actual risk of danger is overshadowed by the horror/disgust of the possible outcome e.g. John and Mary won't let their little girl play at her friend's Ashley's house, as Ashley's father has a gun and the girls might find it. and start playing with it. She can, however, go and play with Kaitlin, whose family has nice house with a pool. This is despite the fact that apparently, the pool is 500 times more likely to kill their daughter than the gun.
The headline "Little girl dies in pool accident" evokes commants of "What a shame" and feelings of sadness. "Little girls dies after playing with friend's father's gun" causes outrage and horror and a determination to get tough on guns.