Internet Watch Foundation

Home Office written question – answered on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Labour, Rotherham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Internet Watch Foundation in removing child sexual abuse material from the internet in 2018.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has had significant success in reducing the amount of child sexual abuse material hosted in the UK. Since 2014, the IWF has proactively searched for and removed illegal imagery of children. As a result of IWF’s work to flag material to companies for removal, its most recent annual report (for 2017) states that less than 1% of child sexual abuse imagery continues to be hosted in the UK, down from 18% in 1996 when IWF was first set up.

IWF’s latest statistics, published in January, show that more than 100,000 webpages showing the sexual abuse and sexual torture of children have been removed from the internet thanks to the IWF in 2018 – up by one third on the year before. In 2018, 4 out of 10 of the webpages the IWF actioned for removal displayed the sexual abuse of children aged 10 years old and younger, with infants and babies featuring more than 1,300 times.

The IWF has been at the centre of work providing industry with hashes — digital fingerprints - of known abuse images which originate from UK law enforcement's Child Abuse Image Database (CAID). So far, thousands of hashes have been shared leading to webpages containing child sexual abuse imagery being blocked or removed.

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