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UK net-biz cleanup squad plans to establish international operations

IWF says battle against vile imagery needs to go global

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The Internet Watch Foundation has made improvement of international co-operation a key objective in the next phase of its fight against the online distribution of child abuse content.

Establishing an international arm to fight paedophile content is at the centre of the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) new three-year strategy, announced on Monday.

The IWF plans to share its expertise and skills with other countries as well as strengthening its global partnerships as part of push to repeat the progress made in tackling child abuse in the UK in other countries.

Last year, the IWF handled 41,000 reports of suspected criminal content, of which 13,100 were classified as images and videos of children being sexually abused.

The vast majority, more than 12,900, involved content hosted outside the UK. Three-quarters of youngsters abused in the depraved video clips and photos appeared to be 10 years old and under.

Close working relationships between the IWF and ISPs mean that child sexual abuse content hosted in the UK is typically removed in 60 minutes. Achieving take-downs of abusive content hosting overseas is often far less straightforward. Even so members of the IWF remove child abuse content when it is hosted abroad 40 per cent quicker than non-members.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, said: "While we continue to excel at tackling online child sexual abuse content in the UK, the next three years will increasingly focus on sharing our expertise and skills internationally.

"From working closely with the online industry, we’ve reduced UK-hosted child sexual abuse content to less than 1 per cent compared to 18 per cent in 1997.

"We also have a great many partnerships with other charities, police, other INHOPE Hotlines and child protection and technology experts all over the world and we feel it’s our duty and the right time to have a closer focus on the international dimension," she added.

The IWF was set up in 1996 by the internet industry in order to provide a UK internet hotline for the report of criminal online content, including child abuse images and criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK. The IWF's strategic plan can be downloaded here. ®

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