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Shock as online child abuse images rocket by a third

The evil tide of child sex abuse images online is continuing to swell – and has risen by more than a..

By admin , in Cambridge , at April 18, 2018

The evil tide of child sex abuse images online is continuing to swell – and has risen by more than a third in the past year.

More of the disturbing pictures and video are in the most extreme category.

And the paedophiles sharing them are getting cleverer at evading detection.

The grim news is revealed today (Wednesday April 18) in the annual report of the Internet Watch Foundation, the Cambridgeshire-based charity that searches for and removes child sexual abuse content on the internet.

The statistics cover the whole world, and are published in the IWFs annual report, used as a key yardstick by governments and the police globally.

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The report also focusses on trends in how internet services are being abused by criminals to host illegal material.

The key points in the IWF report:

  • The number of confirmed child sexual abuse URLs pinpointed in 2017: 78,589. This is up by 37 per cent from 57,335 in 2016.
  • The severity of material being shared is up. Category A content, which includes the rape and sexual torture of children, is up by 5 per cent, from 28 per cent of all content to 33 per cent.
  • Disguised websites – an unprecedented increase. The IWF saw an 86 per cent rise in the use of disguised websites, from 1,572 in 2016 to 2,909 in 2017. These are websites where child sexual abuse content is only revealed to someone who has followed a pre-set digital pathway. To anyone else, they will only show legal content. The charity says: "This implicates increased intelligence among offenders, who may be going to new lengths to evade detection."
  • Europe is worst offender for hosting. Europe now hosts 65 per cent of all confirmed IWF child sexual abuse imagery. This is up from 60 per cent last year. The Netherlands continues to be the worst country for hosting child sexual abuse material.
  • In total, 80,318 reports of confirmed child sexual abuse were processed by the IWF, up from 59,548 in 2016. This was a 35% increase.

The full report can be read here

Where it's all coming from

Europe now accounts for 65 per cent of all child sexual abuse imagery the IWF sees, up from 60 per cent last year. It continues to be the worst continent for child sexual abuse material.

The top hosting countries of child sexual abuse URLs are the Netherlands, USA, Canada, France and Russia. The Netherlands now hosts 36 per cent of child sexual abuse content, down from 37 per cent last year, while North America has decreased by more than 4 per cent from 22 per cent to 18 per cent.

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Overall, 87 per cent of all child sexual abuse URLs identified globally in 2017 were hosted in just these top five countries.

Internet Watch Foundation analysts recorded a big rise in absue images

Susie Hargreaves, the foundations chief executive, said: "We are now receiving more reports of child sexual abuse content than ever before.

"This year were seeing offenders getting smarter and finding new ways to abuse legitimate internet services. Our trends analysis tracks this development.

"Its concerning that offenders appear to be increasingly using concealed digital pathways to prevent law enforcement and hotlines around the world detecting these criminal websites.

Susie Hargeaves: 'We must fight this disturbing crime'

"We are making huge technological advances, which well be announcing later in the year, but we also need to continue to work globally, in partnership, to fight this disturbing crime. This battle cannot be won in isolation.

"The child victims of sexual abuse online are re-victimised again and again, every time their picture is shared. The experience they go through at such a young age is unimaginably horrific, and they frequently take this pain into adulthood with them.

"Thats why at the IWF we fight every day to make sure these images and videos are removed from the internet, so that victims are no longer forced to live with the torment of others seeing the images of their abuse online.

Paedophiles are getting more savvy at escaping detection

"While Im so proud of our hotline for the sheer number of child sexual abuse URLs theyre removing online, these figures show what a vast amount of content is out there. Sadly, this could just be the tip of the iceberg."

Paeophiles online – the sickening statistics

In 2017, IWF analysts assessed a web page every four minutes. Every 7 minutes, that webpage showed a child being sexually abused. In 2016, analysts saw a child being sexually abused every 9 minutes.

In total, 80,318 reports of confirmed child sexual abuse were processed by the IWF, up from 59,548 in 2016. This was overall a 35% increase. This figure includes URLs and newsgroups.

In 2017, the IWFs Analysts found 78,589 URLs containing child sexual abuse material, and 571 newsgroups – of which 43,767 individual posts were removed from public access.

Image hosting sites continue to be the most abused service at 69% of content.

More images featured children aged 0 to 10 than last year, rising from 53% to 55%, with images featuring 11 to 15 year-olds dropping from 45% to 43%. Children aged two or under accounted for 2% of content. The last 2% were pages with links to child sexual abuse content.

Of the victims, 86% were girls, 7% were boys and 5% featured both genders.

A total of 77,082 unique URLs were included on the IWFs URL list, a 44% increase on 53,552 included in 2016.

With a 57% increase on last year, more domain names than ever before are being used to host images and videos of children being sexually abused. With 3,791 domains being found this year, compared to 2,416 in 2016, 1,991 in 2015 and 1,694 in 2014, there has been a rise of 124% in four years.

Whats being done to stop them?

During 2017, the IWF says it took action against 5,002 URLs on websites using new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which are domain names classified according to the subjects that follow the dot.

Each of the IWFs 13 analysts monitoring the internet saw nearly 11,000 child sexual abuse images.

IWF staff take a break in the charity's chill-out area

Half of all the IWFs reports of abuse were 'proactively sourced' – that is, put together by its staff – while the other 50% were sent in by the public.

What can we all do to ourselves?

The IWF urges people to report images they see to a special online hotline.

The charity says: "Your report could lead to the rescue of a young victim from further abuse. Reporting is quick and easy and you can report completely anonymously."

To make a report, visit the IWF website here

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