Child porn now taken down twice as fast, says IWF

Police are winning the battle against child pornography, with offending images being taken down more than twice as fast as they were a year ago, according to a report released today by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The UK-based online crime hotline reveals in its Annual Report 2010 that images of child sexual abuse are now removed from the Internet in an average of 12 days, irrespective of where in the world they are hosted. The figure is down from an average of around a month only a year ago. Images hosted in the UK are now routinely taken down in a matter of hours.

The success comes as a result of closer collaboration between the IWF and partners around the world, both in law enforcement and in the Internet industry, including the use of hotlines to report suspect content.

"Taking our content removal experience to the global level was a significant challenge and to see such dramatic progress is fantastic," said IWF chair Eve Salomon. "In every instance where an image is removed quickly, the risk of a child being re-victimised by someone viewing their abuse is substantially reduced."

"Our dedicated team, with the support of the internet industry and international hotlines, is clearly making a significant difference. By developing this strand of our work and combining it with our intelligence of the commercial networks involved, we intend to have an ever-greater impact on the distribution - and especially sale - of images of children being sexually abused," she added.

But while law enforcement agencies are managing to crack down on offenders more quickly, the Annual Report reveals that the number of individual web pages hosting images of child abuse rose by 89 per cent during 2010.

The IWF cautions against interpreting the sharp increase as an indication that the problem is getting worse. In the past, the watchdog says, huge collections would be hosted on a single site. Now they are more likely to be scattered across the internet, often on legitimate sites and file-sharing services.

The Annual Report also reveals the extent of commercial trafficking in child porn images, with 300 pay sites discovered to be active during 2010. According to the IWF, the ten largest account for more than half of all commercially available child abuse images on the Net.