Child sex abuse images increasingly being found and removed

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A child at the windowImage source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
The IWF says it is acutely aware that behind each image is a real child

Nearly 70,000 pictures and videos showing child sex abuse have been removed from the internet in the past year, the UK charity leading the efforts to combat the abuse has said.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was given more powers in 2014 to actively search for such images and take action.

The content it found included images and videos of 1,788 victims who were assessed as being aged two or under.

Just 0.2% of child sexual abuse imagery is hosted in the UK, the charity said.

Reporting on its work in 2015, the IWF said:

  • 68,092 reports were identified as containing illegal child sexual abuse
  • 69% of victims were assessed as aged 10 or younger
  • 34% of images were category A - which involves the rape or sexual torture of children

IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves said: "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.

"But despite our success, this isn't the time to stand still. 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."

'No excuse'

In 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron granted the IWF powers to actively search for images of child sexual abuse rather than just rely on reports from members of the public.

The charity plans to expand its team of 12 analysts to 17 and offer its image list, identified by unique "hash" codes, to the wider internet industry so internet service providers and other content companies can take down duplicate images.

It is also planning to challenge online companies that are not members of the IWF to take action.

Current members include Google, Facebook, Amazon, the BBC, BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

"There is simply no excuse. Not being part of this battle to eliminate online child sexual abuse imagery, is not an option," said Ms Hargreaves.

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