Cash injection takes battle to end online child sexual abuse imagery to the next level

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The Fund to End Violence Against Children has awarded the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation), the UK based international online safety charity, a grant to set up 30 Reporting Portal solutions in some of the world’s least developed countries.
In a historic move, the funding will enable countries to provide a quick and easy way for their web users to safely and anonymously report disturbing online images and videos of child sexual abuse.

The grant is being announced today (Tuesday 14 November 2017). However, work is already well underway with the first country in this innovative project, The United Republic of Tanzania, launching their IWF Reporting Portal back in October 2017.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said: “At the Internet Watch Foundation, we gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided for this ground-breaking programme by the Fund to End Violence Against Children.

“Child sexual abuse imagery is an international problem and we can only fight it with a truly global solution. We believe that every citizen, wherever they live in the world, deserves the right to be safe online. And, as a fundamental right, every victim of child sexual abuse deserves to be able to live free from the torment of knowing images of their abuse could be shared online.”

IWF Reporting Portals have already been successfully established in 17 countries and territories across the world, including Uganda, India and Namibia. The United Republic of Tanzania brings that number to 18, with the Mozambique Reporting Portal due to launch next.

“Parents, governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and the business community are increasingly aware of this growing global threat to our children’s safety, but the situation keeps worsening,” said Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and its associated Fund. “It’s a crisis affecting all countries, including the world’s least developed. The IWF Reporting Portals provide a solution for anyone with an internet connection to take action and help keep our children safe.”

The programme is due to be rolled out over three years and will be focused on some of the least developed countries in the world, including East, Central, West and Southern Africa, Central America and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Jenny Thornton, IWF International Development Manager said: “There is a global disparity in the availability of mechanisms for tackling child sexual abuse imagery online. To address this unevenness, in a world where child sexual abuse imagery online is a crime that disregards international borders, we are dedicated to equipping the least developed countries with a Reporting Portal. It’s important to do this now before these countries are targeted because of their vulnerability.”

What is an IWF Reporting Portal?

Each Reporting Portal uses the existing and world-class Hotline service of the IWF. The IWF helps people who stumble across online child sexual abuse images and videos to report them anonymously online and uses highly-trained Hotline analysts to assess reported material against UK law. The Hotline then works directly with the internet industry and law enforcement, to have the illegal abusive imagery removed quickly.

The advantage of establishing an IWF Reporting Portal in countries without reporting mechanisms is that any reports of suspected online child sexual abuse imagery will be assessed directly by one of IWF’s analysts quickly and acted upon immediately if it is found to be illegal. These analysts are respected globally for their ability to assess a webpage every 5 minutes and to find a webpage showing a child being sexually abused every 9 minutes. Since the IWF was establishing in 1996, the Hotline analysts have manually process 872,123 reports and confirmed 354,886 as child sexual abuse material.

These staggering statistics means that the IWF Hotline provides one of the most successful reporting mechanisms in the world. When the charity was founded 20 years ago, 18% of the world’s online child sexual abuse imagery was hosted in the UK. Thanks to IWF analysts, that figure is now less than 1%. These analysts are considered world-leaders for their expertise.