In June 2009 the Ministry of Justice asked us to extend our national Hotline to enable the public to report online non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children, covered by Sections 62 to 69 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
Following consultation with our Funding Council of industry members, in October 2009 the IWF Board informed government of our agreement to fulfil this role from 6 April 2010.
This means the public can report non-photographic visual
depictions, such as computer-generated images, of the sexual abuse of children to the IWF if they are on a UK website. The legislation should only catch material which is already illegal to publish here under the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
IWF will take further action to have this content removed, in partnership with the police and the hosting provider, if it is hosted in the UK and if we consider it meets all three of the following criteria:
1) That the image
is pornographic; 2) That the image is grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character; 3) That the image focuses solely or principally on a child's genitals or anal region, or portrays any of the following acts:
a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child c) an act which involves
penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person's body or with anything else d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person's body or with anything else e) the
performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of
1. Our role regarding non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse, such as computer-generated images, comprises an extension to our remit as follows:
child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK
incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK
non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK.
2. The IWF will only address reports concerning such images when they are hosted on UK websites.
3. On those rare occasions where such images are believed to be criminal and are depicted on a website hosted in the UK we will work in partnership
with the hosting provider and the police to remove the content and provide information to assist investigations into its distribution.
4. Our industry members can refer to the IWF as a point of expertise for advice on whether such images on their
networks are potentially criminal and should be considered for investigation by the police.
5. We will not be compiling a list of websites or URLs depicting these images to enable service providers to block access to them.
6. The IWF has no
role in the direct investigation of those involved in the distribution or possession of this content.
7. IWF analysts train with the police regarding the assessment of potentially criminal content.
First, why is it that the IWF will not add sites containing non-photographic visual
depictions of the sexual abuse of children (or drawings , as we used to call them in the old days) to its watchlist? Are they any less illegal than other types of child pornography?
Second, in regard to their remit to help remove such
images in the UK , has it escaped the IWF's notice that these images are still perfectly legal to possess and distribute in Scotland?
Public bodies have been banned from using internet companies that refuse to block a range of websites specified by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
The ban on public bodies signing contracts with companies that do not actively block paedophile
sites was announced by the Office of Government Commerce.
In an instruction to all departments, agencies and quangos, it said that they should deal only with contractors who agreed to block a list of sites known to carry abusive images. The list,
containing between 500 and 800 websites, is maintained by the IWF and updated twice daily.
An action note issued to all departments said the new policy applied to contracts with internet firms, mobile operators, search providers and
filtering companies. The note said: The Government should lead by example and require its suppliers of internet services to deploy the list across services they provide to Government.
The move follows intensive lobbying of the Government by
children's charities, which have long protested against the failure of internet providers to block illegal sites. John Carr, of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, said he was delighted by the Government's action: Although almost
all of the internet service providers active in the domestic market are blocking access to child abuse websites, some very large companies that supply internet connectivity in the business market are not doing so. We hope this will help them to change
their mind. Now they have a business reason to do the right thing.