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21 Oct 2016

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) mark 20 years of service.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) are marking their 20th anniversary today with more than a quarter of a million online child abuse images successfully identified and removed from the internet within their 20 year history.

Dedicated to making the internet a safer place, the IWF help victims of child abuse worldwide, by identifying and removing online images of their abuse. Members of the public are also able to anonymously report any criminal content they come across online by using the IWFhotline.

At 11.21am on 21st October 1996, the very first report was made to the newly-formed IWF by telephone call, to a small room in a victorian house just outside of Cambridge.

Since then 699,403 reports have been made and assessed by the IWF’s analysts, 281,781 of those showing the rape, torture and sexual abuse of children.

In addition, the analysts have logged 125,583 ‘digital fingerprints’ also known as hashes, to their Image Hash List

The Image Hash List is shared with the online industry to help speed up the identification and removal of content worldwide, in order to actively protect and help victims of abuse.

Top internet giants and IWF members, BT, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are amongst those using the game-changing technology.

IWF Chief Executive Officer, Suzie Hargreaves says:

"What’s truly shocking is not always the numbers of reports to our hotline, but what is shown in those images and videos. Each and every one of those quarter of a million reports is the record of the sexual abuse of a child. These are real children. The majority are under 10-years-old. Some are younger than two. The UK leads the world at removing this illegal imagery of children. Today, only 0.2% of the world’s known child sexual abuse imagery is hosted in the UK. When the IWF was founded nearly 20 years ago, that figure was 18%. We feel that’s a testament to the work of our analysts."

Proud of their work and legacy, the IWF have created an infographic designed to mark both IWF and Internet milestones.

Alongside this is a film, which has been produced with the parents of April Jones and the giants of the internet industry, allowing them to share their views. April Jones was just 5 years old when she was murdered back in 2012, by a man who had been looking at child sexual abuse imagery online, three hours prior.

As members of the IWF, Smoothwall will continue to support the fight against online child sexual abuse imagery and thank them immensely for the critical work they do and will continue to do in the future. 

Smoothwall’s Online Safety Ambassador and Head of Marketing, Claire Stead says:

"The Internet Watch Foundation do a truly magnificent job, and that’s why we’re so proud to support them and be affiliated with them. Smoothwall have been a member of the IWF since 2007 and thanks to their hard work, we’re able to keep child sexual abuse imagery off the internet."

It’s shocking to think what a scary place we might be in without them.For more information and to report any criminal content please visit the IWF website.   

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