IWF National Awareness Day

Today (7th October 2010) is the fourth national Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) awareness day. This year major UK internet companies are joining together with government departments, charities and police bodies to promote the IWF and its confidential online reporting service.

IWF is marking the day by launching its new website designed to make it even easier for the public to report suspicious content on the web and providing up-to-date information about their work and how they operate: www.iwf.org.uk. The website receives around 400,000 visits a year and has dealt with over 35,000 reports so far this year.

The Internet Watch Foundation is an independent industry body and since 1996 has operated the UK Hotline for the public to report criminal online content. Reports can be submitted anonymously and each one is assessed and tracked by a specialist team of analysts. Action is taken to remove and disrupt criminal web content, particularly images of child sexual abuse. IWF provides details of websites depicting child sexual abuse to police forces and Hotlines around the world for investigation leading to the removal thousands of images from the internet.

Eve Salomon, IWF Chair, said: “It is crucial that everyone knows they can report child sexual abuse images to us and have confidence that we will work to get them removed and investigated, wherever they originate in the world. It’s fantastic to see our member companies joining forces and getting behind this initiative by publicising our Hotline to their customers. Fighting child sexual abuse is something that unites us all and a report to the IWF could rescue a child from suffering.”

This month also sees IWF’s industry members working together to enhance the self-regulatory and accountability structures around the blocking initiative which prevents accidental exposure to child sexual abuse images. This is an important milestone and marks the launch of a testing and transparency programme for the blocking solutions of IWF member companies taking the IWF list of child sexual abuse web pages. The number of companies which choose to receive this list continues to grow with over 70 internet services providers, search and content providers, mobile operators and filtering companies around the world now taking steps to protect their customers in this way. 

The IWF publishes a list on its website of companies taking this list and testing their systems for effective deployment of a blocking solution. Therefore the public can see which companies are doing their best to effectively prevent their customers being exposed to child sexual abuse content.

For further information on this testing programme see here.

About the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

The IWF was established in 1996 by the internet industry to provide the UK internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report criminal online content in a secure and confidential way. The Hotline service can be used anonymously to report content within their remit. The IWF works in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, and international partners to minimise the availability of this content, specifically:

  • child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK
  • incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK
  • non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK.


The IWF is an independent self-regulatory body, funded by the EU and the wider online industry, including internet service providers, mobile operators and manufacturers, content service providers, filtering companies, search providers, trade associations, and the financial sector. The IWFs self-regulatory partnership approach is widely recognised as a model of good practice in combating the abuse of technology for the dissemination of criminal content. 

Sharing Good Practice

The IWF works with UK government to influence initiatives developed to combat online abuse and this dialogue goes beyond the UK and Europe to promote greater awareness of global issues, trends and responsibilities. The IWF works internationally with INHOPE Hotlines and other relevant organisations to encourage united global responses to the problem and wider adoption of good practice in combating child sexual abuse images on the internet.


The IWF helps internet service providers and hosting companies to combat the abuse of their networks through their ‘notice and takedown’ service which alerts ISPs to content so they can remove it from their networks and provide unique data to law enforcement partners in the UK and abroad to assist investigations into the distributors. As a result of this approach the content the IWF deal with has been virtually eradicated from UK networks. As sexually abusive images of children are primarily hosted abroad, the IWF facilitates the industry-led initiative to protect users from inadvertent exposure to this content by blocking access to it through their provision of a dynamic list of child sexual abuse web pages.

There are a number of tactics carried out by the IWF on a national and, where relevant, international basis which are having an effect in minimising the availability of child sexual abuse content:

  • Reporting mechanism for the public to report their inadvertent exposure to potentially criminal child sexual abuse content.
  • ‘Notice and takedown’ system to swiftly remove child sexual abuse content at source.
  • Targeted assessment and monitoring system to remove child sexual abuse content in newsgroups.
  • Provision of a child sexual abuse URL list to ISPs, mobile operators, search engines and content providers to help disrupt access to child sexual abuse content.
  • Working with domain name registries and registrars to deregister domain names dedicated to the distribution of child sexual abuse content.

Please note that ‘child pornography’, ‘child porn’ and ‘kiddie porn’ are not acceptable terms. The use of such language acts to legitimise images which are not pornography, rather, they are permanent records of children being sexually abused and as such should be referred to as child sexual abuse images.



Press release from IWF

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 237700



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