The IWF is an international not-for-profit charity which exists to remove child sexual abuse images and videos from the internet.

Although we’re independent of law enforcement and government, we work very closely with them both. We have over 140 Members, which includes some of the biggest companies in the world. We provide a range of technical services which are deployed across the globe to help our Members disrupt and prevent their networks from being abused.

Back in July 2018, the IWF were the proud winners of the Twentieth Year Award at ISPA’s 2018 UK ISP Internet Industry Awards. In explanation, the IWF, ‘were awarded this special award for their continued commitment to keeping the internet a safer environment for over 20 years and an international example of how industry can work in partnership to tackle challenging online issues. This perfectly reflects how our partnership approach can be so effective. Our members voluntarily block and remove child sexual abuse images and videos based on the services we provide. 

When the IWF was founded in 1996, the UK hosted 18% of all child sexual abuse imagery worldwide. Today, down to this concerted and coordinated approach with the IWF, our industry Members, along with government and law enforcement, the UK has become one of the most hostile places to host child sexual abuse material. Since 2003, less than 1% of all online child sexual abuse imagery has been hosted in the UK. In 2018 this figure stood at 0.04%.

Of course, we cannot be complacent. These disturbing images are still being shared online and the offenders that abuse legitimate services have no respect for international borders. So, if we are serious in our goal of eliminating online child sexual abuse images and videos from the internet, we have to take a global approach and work to replicate our success worldwide.

Today we have over 140 Members. They are some of the giants of the internet world. And, they want to be IWF Members to do the right thing. Our range of services are specifically targeted to different sectors in the internet industry, for example, our Virtual Currency Alerts for those in the virtual currency sector.

‘Identifying the flow of funds and revenues generated through this activity opens up a new avenue to prevent this criminal activity and bring more stakeholders into the fight’, said Johnathan Levein from Chainalysis. There’s also our Image Hash List, where we turn child sexual abuse images into a hash, like a digital fingerprint. The list of hashes stops people uploading known images of child sexual abuse onto our Members’ systems, which include search engines and image hosting websites. 

On top of this, our URL List is seen as the gold standard. This is a list of webpages our analysts have found containing child sexual abuse images and videos. This list is made available to our Members, allowing them to block access to their customers, while we work to remove these webpages from the internet. In 2015, BT published a transparency report which showed that the average number of attempts to retrieve an image of child sexual abuse on the URL List notified to BT was 36,738 every 24 hours (13,409,370 per annum). The URL List is currently deployed by 72 companies with 43 of those deploying in more than one country. 17 companies deploy the list globally.

You’ve probably already read about our highly trained analysts, who processed 229,328 reports in 2018. It is through their tireless work in removing child sexual abuse imagery that our services are possible. ISPA stated partnership was at the heart of our success, which is what we shall continue to do as we continue our work with the internet industry worldwide.

For more information on IWF Membership, please contact Will Few, IWF Development Manager, on +44 (0) 1223 20 30 30, or will@iwf.org.uk