Where are webpages being hosted?
In 2016, we saw that for the first time most child sexual abuse webpages assessed by our analysts were hosted in Europe, which was a shift from North America. This trend has continued since then.
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A law in the USA requires technology companies to report any suspected child sexual abuse imagery. This is called mandatory reporting. We see the positive effect of this; over the past few years, we’ve found fewer instances of child sexual abuse hosted in the USA, despite there being a high concentration of internet companies based there.
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What do we mean by 'hosted in a country'?
When we’ve assessed that an image or video fails UK law, our aim is to get it removed from the internet as fast as possible.
To do this, we perform a trace on the content to identify the physical server that the content is hosted on. This tells us which partners in which country we need to work with. When the content is removed from the physical server – its source – then we can be sure that the image has been removed from any websites or forums, or image boards etc, that could be linking to it.
Hosting in the Netherlands
In 2020, the Dutch Minister for Security, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, made a number of important interventions aimed at tackling the amount of child sexual abuse material hosted in the Netherlands.
He spoke alongside EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson at an Intergroup event of the European Parliament on Child Rights, which we attended. He outlined in his speech his personal commitment to tackling hosting issues, which included investing in partnerships between the Dutch Government and private sector. This included a new Hash check service available to companies to clean up their servers and preparing a new Bill introducing a new administrative enforcement instrument to eradicate child sexual abuse faster and more efficiently.
The Minister also threatened to blacklist non-compliant companies by September 2020 and stated it was his ambition for hosts to remove content within 24 hours. He also stated that he would name and shame the very worst offenders. Tu Delft University in the Netherlands were also commissioned and produced a CSAM Monitor report, which was published in September 2020.
What can we do about removing this content?
We are committed to playing our part globally in the removal of content.
We constantly innovate to achieve this. We’ve set up 43 Reporting Portals around the world as part of our work in partnership with the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children. This has enabled us to develop vital links with other NGOs, governments and police services globally to remove this content.
In 2020, a new partnership was forged with law enforcement in Ukraine, leading to the expedited removal of criminal material hosted there.
We are committed to shaping new global standards. In the past year, we have seen the five-eyes governments lead the way in the development of a new set of voluntary principles and the UK Government propose a new interim Code of Practice which aims at ensuring companies do more to prevent this material from appearing online in the first place, encouraging them to utilise many of the technical tools and services we provide to the industry.
In the EU we work closely with Europol and Interpol. We presented alongside them at the Lanzarote Committee of the Council of Europe to highlight the impact of Covid-19 on the spread of child sexual abuse online. Europol have produced a number of threat assessments which have referenced many similar trends we have identified including a rise in self-generated content.
As a key organisation within the INHOPE network (International Association of Internet Hotlines) we work closely with all other INHOPE hotlines around the world to ensure that we alert our partners when we find child sexual abuse content hosted in their country. IWF Reporting Portals are included under the INHOPE umbrella.
Additionally, we “chase up” our partners if this criminal imagery is not removed quickly. This process was improved further in 2020 as we agreed a shorter delay period with our INHOPE partners, allowing us to “chase up” live content hosted outside the UK within 48 hours of sending our initial notification to the hosting country. This helps to speed up the removal of child sexual abuse imagery on a global level.
View trends and data for the UK.