The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) marked its 20th Anniversary on
21st October 2016.
At 11.21am on 21 October, 1996 the very first report was made to the newly-formed IWF. It came in by telephone, to a small room in a Victorian town house in Oakington, a village just outside Cambridge.
20 years later:
699,403 reports have been assessed by the IWF's analysts, with,
281,781* of those showing the sexual abuse of children. One report might show one, or thousands of images or videos of sexual abuse
Commendably the IWF has kept its child porn remit and generally steered clear from the censorship of adult porn.
Susie Hargreaves is Chief Executive of the IWF, the Cambridge based organisation that works internationally to help remove online child sexual abuse
imagery. She has been awarded her OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her work in the field of online child protection.
On hearing of her award, Susie said:
This is a great honour not only for me, but the whole IWF team. It is because of the dedicated work done by our team of analysts, that we've been able to make such a significant global impact in the battle to against online child sexual abuse images and
videos. So I have them to thank for this recognition and I am extremely proud of the success of IWF and the work of our whole team.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) commendably concentrates on its good work on tracking down child abuse material. The group does have a remit (assigned by politicians) on censoring adult porn too. However the IWF downplays this as much as possible,
presumably to maintain maximum support for its more important work. This years report reveals minimal levels of intervention on adult issues:
Other criminal content
In 2015, 3,494 reports of alleged criminally obscene adult content were made to us. Almost all were not hosted in the UK, so they weren't in our remit. 0 were assessed as criminally obscene and hosted in the UK.
3 URLs were assessed as hosting non-photographic child sexual abuse content (cartoons or drawings). These were passed onto the National Crime Agency CEOP Command.
The IWF press release for the publication of the 2015 Annual Report reads:
IWF announce record reports of child sexual abuse online
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the online child sexual abuse charity, reveals a staggering increase in the number of reports of illegal child sexual abuse images and videos, that it removed from the internet last year.
68,092 reports were positively identified as containing illegal child sexual abuse imagery and taken down. This is a:
417% increase in online confirmed reports over two years
118% increase in illegal child abuse imagery over the previous year
This is since Prime Minister David Cameron gave his approval for the IWF to start proactively searching for online child sexual abuse imagery in April 2014.
In 2013, the last complete year of figures before IWF active searches were introduced, 13,182 reports were found to contain child sexual abuse imagery. In 2015, the first full year that their analysts were able to actively
search, 68,092 reports were confirmed as illegal images or video. That's an increase of 417% .
Each confirmed report, or URL, could contain one or one thousand images. Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO says: "Last year our analysts broke all records for assessing reports. By being allowed to actively search for these
hideous images of children, we've seen a dramatic increase in the sheer number of illegal images and videos that we've been able to remove from the internet. Thanks to a co-ordinated approach from government and our internet industry Members, our work is
having an incredible impact.
"But despite our success, this isn't the time to stand still. We're employing the latest technology in our work and we've got ambitious plans to expand our team of analysts. What we never forget, is that behind these headlines
and every single image we remove from the internet -- there is a real child being abused."
The report also looks at trends emerging from the 2015 data. It found:
69% of victims were assessed as aged 10 or under
1,788 of victims were assessed as aged 2 or under
34% of images were category A -- which involved the rape or sexual torture of children
The UK leads the world at removing this illegal imagery of children. Only 0.2% of the world's known child sexual abuse imagery is hosted in the UK. When the IWF was founded nearly twenty years ago, that figure was 18% . As a charity, IWF work with online companies to help them keep their services safer. They run a Reporting Hotline and provide a host of preventative services, including the new IWF Image Hash List .
In addition to the 112, 975 reports processed by IWF Hotline in 2015, currently over 70,000 known images of child sexual abuse have been added to our Image Hash List. Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO says: "This
report shows the real difference our proactive work has made. The 417% increase in confirmed illegal imagery is staggering. But there's so much more to do. We plan to expand our team of 12 expert analysts to 17, offer our Image Hash List to the
wider internet industry and challenge non-Member online companies to take action. There is simply no excuse. Not being part of this battle to eliminate online child sexual abuse imagery, is not an option."
The trends from IWF's 2015 Annual Report show:
150% increase in takedown notices issued for newsgroups containing child sexual abuse imagery.
78% of all confirmed child sexual abuse imagery was hosted by image hosting sites.
21% of the webpages confirmed as containing child sexual abuse imagery were assessed as commercial.