The Internet Watch Foundation was one of the most highly-nominated causes from giffgaff's recent charity vote. The work they do is instrumental in making sure that child sexual abuse images are not proliferated around the web, and that the children involved are brought to safety. We asked them to expand a little on the difficult, but vital, work that they do every day.
Please be aware that this blog does contain a story of an abuse incident one IWF analyst dealt with, which some members may find disturbing.
We would like to thank the giffgaff community for shortlisting us in December’s charity vote, and also give a big thank you to those of you who voted for us. It means so much to both the IWF, and the victims we help, to know that so many of the public support the removal of child sexual abuse images from the internet. Both the British Heart Foundation and Save the Children are very worthy recipients of the charity payback this Christmas.
At the Internet Watch Foundation, we do what others can’t to save children from sexual abuse. From our office in Cambridge, our 13 analysts are the only people in the UK who can proactively search for child sexual abuse content from around the world to remove it from the internet. We are the world’s leading charity and hotline in identifying and removing this illegal content, and receive tens of thousands of reports from internet users every year, who are often distressed after stumbling across images and videos of children being sexually abused.
Our work not only stops the revictimisation of children whose suffering is shared again and again online, but also helps to identify new victims who need saving, working with law enforcement agencies, governments, the internet industry and others charities and hotlines across the world to track down these children so they can be rescued, while their images are removed.
We’d like to introduce you to Peter (not his real name), one of our analysts who can better explain why the work we do is so vital.
Peter said: “A public report came in for a website showing a lot of child sexual abuse imagery. There were many, many images and videos on that site. They were of children showing themselves in sexual positions or performing sexual acts on webcams. One set of images showed a girl and by her appearance, her clothes, the décor in her room and things in the background, I could tell that she was in the UK. I called a few other analysts over to help me assess the images and after investigating a bit more with a few online searches, we managed to come up with a potential location for her.
“We sent the report to CEOP, the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and they then contacted the local police. In less than two days we got the message that the girl had been safeguarded by the police. She was 12 years-old and had been groomed for years. I’ll never forget the feeling of absolute joy that we had helped this girl. That’s probably the highlight of what I’ve done at the IWF so far.”
We help the internet industry join the fight against online child sexual abuse imagery, by providing a raft of world-class specialist services to our Members, which include internet service providers, phone companies and social media companies. By developing and working with the latest technologies, we may be able to stop thousands of images of abuse from being uploaded in the first place. We have even more tech advancements in the pipeline for 2018. If you’d like to see a list of the innovative services we provide, click here. And if you think your company could become a Member, read more here.
We’ve also launched 18 international reporting websites, known as Reporting Portals, in countries across the world, with another 29 of the world’s least developed countries joining in the next two-and-a-half years. Online child sexual abuse imagery is a global problem, which demands a global solution. The internet doesn’t respect geographical borders, which is why working with partners worldwide is essential.
giffgaff has kindly set up a BT MyDonate fundraising page for us. If you would like to leave a donation to us, which will allow our analysts to continue their vital work, just click here. Each report, which could help remove thousands of images, costs £10 to process. Thank you.
The Internet Watch Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission, that helps victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse.