Preventing Exploitation Of Digital Images Of Children

Child sexual abuse images online present new and daunting challenges for practitioners working in the field of child sexual abuse. 

Now, digital fingerprints of a million images of child sexual abuse have been created, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has said. The IWF’s CTO Dan Sexton explains vital role new European proposal could have in preventing the widespread sexual abuse, rape, and sexual torture of child victims online.

In a quote provided by the IWF, an image analyst said: "I have three children 11 and under. The job has changed the way I think about them and the internet. "It has surprised me how much material there is of very young children. Some of them are five, six, or seven years old."

Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive of the IWF, said in a statement that the nature of the material is such that its analysts were only allowed to work four-hour shifts, taking regular breaks, and with access to the best counselling and support. The charity says it has helped remove an unprecedented amount of material.

In 2021, it says it took action to remove 252,000 web pages which it confirmed contained images or videos of children suffering sexual abuse - more than ever before.

“For the IWF, we believe there is much to be positive about in the Bill. The introduction of a Duty of Care, Risk Assessment, and in-scope companies being subjected to ongoing to review and dialogue with a new online safety regulator, Ofcom, as well as the introduction of mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse material, are to be welcomed.

“A lot of thought has gone into the development of the legislation. It attempts to strike a balance between protecting children from harm and not infringing on civil liberties such as freedom of expression online,” says Susie Hargreaves.

IWF:        IWF:          BBC:         TechDigest:   

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