back to article Internet Watch Foundation: Abuse images takedown speeds up

The number of URLs hosting child abuse content has risen significantly over the last year – but the scale of the problem has not changed, and take-down time has improved dramatically. Those were the highlights of yesterday's Internet Watch Foundation 2010 Annual Report (PDF/3.9MB) presented to an assembly of the great and the …


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  1. Annihilator Silver badge

    And still no mention

    Of how much the IWF interferes with normal and "legal" browsing (loose phrase - the IWF aren't capable of making legal judgements on material).

    One file on et al, means that every request for hotfile will be routed via the relevant ISPs proxies, meaning the entire traffic from that ISPs customers will appear as one IP address, instantly triggering the abuse blocking mechanism of hotfile. Think back to the Wikipedia/Scorpions album, and repeat once a month for at least one file hosting site.

    Please stop reporting the IWF's successes without mentioning the epic hamstring they provide to "legal" users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      This is not 100% the IWF's fault but the way that the ISP's have implemented the filtering. They use a proxy with only one IP address, to use as a source for request going through the proxy. As far as I am aware ths is an ISP decision rather than an IWF one. They just provide the blocklists.

      But it is the most annoying thing ever having various file hosting sites not working properly all the time.

      Also great news that they saved 2 victims. But is that all, only 2?

  2. Graham Marsden

    "the economics of child abuse...

    "...make it less of a focus for organised crime than popular belief would have it."

    What? You mean that those International Networks of Organised Paedos which we've heard so much about from Jim Gamble et al turn out to be figments of an over-excited imagination?


  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Pointless waste of hot air

    What the authorities should do is go after those who MAKE the pictures and not pat themselves on the back every time they manage to google out a cache of filth on the Internets.

    But I guess this would involve lifting one's own ass from the chair and actually doing some old-fashion police work, which is probably beneath the HiTek detective elite in CEOP et al.

  4. PerfectBlue

    Maybe you should mention that ....

    What this article should be saying, but isn’t is that the IWF is pretty much totally unaccountable as it’s not a government body and is not regulated by OFCOM. It can block anything that it likes, it doesn’t have to tell you that your trying to access blocked content, or that your content is being blocked. If the IWF determined that a picture of your child playing in your garden without their trousers on was pornography they could knock it off of the web for the vast majority of people in the UK and nobody would know about it except them. For everybody else the pictures would be invisible.

    The IWF should be outlawed until such time as it puts in place a system by which it contacts content owners and informs them that they are being blocked, in order to allow them to argue their case. If a content owner is hiding their identity, then by all means block them, but legitimate content owners should be given the chance to challenge their blocking.

    It’s scary that we don’t’ even know how much legitimate content is being blocked. If it weren’t for them blocking a picture on Wikipedia most of the people in the UK wouldn’t even be aware that the internet is censored in the UK.

    This IWF is the unofficial outsourcing of censorship to vigilante busy bodies. They need to be made accountable before they take it into their heads to block other content. It may only a matter of time before they start blocking suicide discussion forums, or eating disorder forums, or who knows what that’s controversial but legal. They won’t tell you what they are blocking.

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  5. Anonymous Coward

    but think of the childrenz

    That's apparently all these perverts do....

  6. A B 3

    Still the thin edge of the wedge

    I do want to see such crimes and all crimes prevented or at least a 100% conviction rate. However this will be a 'told you so' moment one day in the future when people are dobbing in their neighbours for criticising the governement in a chat room.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    so IWF == ACPO of ISP's?

    Unelected check

    Unaccountable check

    Policy set behind closed doors check

    Actual *policy* IE the block list is *itself* secret check

    What do you think?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re The block itself

      It occurs to me that if they didn't keep the block itself secret, anyone could get a VPN to somewhere that the blocks don't exist and then route to the blocked material. The practical upshot of this would be that the IWF actually advertise their blocked material to the world. This would hardly be an acceptable situation for the IWF to be in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "This would hardly be an acceptable situation for the IWF to be in."


        However, does that change the argument? I think not.

        Is the price worth it? I think not either.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thinking of the children

    So how many makers of child abuse images, not merely copying* of images taken earlier and possibly elsewhere and by someone else, did the IWF facilitate in catching?

    Oh right, that's not what they do. They merely shuffle the problem under the carpet, after /embiggening/ it sufficiently to scare everyone in compliance with the cencorship again.

    I don't know if it's poor reporting or poor reporting but, does that list of 41 countries include the fabulous ".com", ".net", and ".org" countries?

    A "url" includes paths and such and aren't restricted to hosts (and hosts might host (very funny, it's what they do) more than just that content, which is why the IWF deals in "urls" instead of "hosts" or "ip addresses". But as a side effect it does conveniently make the metric of number of urls meaningless for quantification purposes. It only says how long their blacklist is, not how widespread or prolific the problem is.

    This "shift in hosting pattern" might mean a number of people offering content the IWF blocks (whatever it is) might have learned how to make more subdirectories or how to interleave blockable and non-blockable "urls".

    "Our sense is therefore that the overall amount of content on the net is not increasing: it is merely being hosted differently."

    And there you have it. It's not increasing, but also not decreasing. It's merely objecting to being shuffled under the carpet. Routing around censorship, and such.

    "[Evidence collected by CEOP and some other bunch, who are they?] suggesting that the economics of child abuse make it less of a focus for organised crime than popular belief would have it."

    This is a fairly curious thing for the CEOP to say, as the various "think of the children" pressure groups have put that rumour into the world themselves in the first place.

    "Rather, sharing of images was often a form of "sick social networking", with abusers either passing on images as a form of one-upmanship, or possibly in the hope of inspiring others to reciprocate by providing images of their own activity."

    That isn't surprising. Without saying abusing children is in any way or form acceptable**, if you overcome your nausea for a moment and recall where they're coming from: Sexual preferences are pretty much hardwired, and most of us in the west have learned to accept homosexuality as not merely something happening between consenting adults but also as something that is innate and not an affliction or a disease, much like heterosexuality, though with the latter being more prolific and better accepted for obvious reasons. Paedophilia would be similarly innate and not curable--though any resulting child abuse would still be entirely unacceptable.

    These people are looking for an outlet for an urge that they can't let show in public, but they still have it. So, they find like-minded people, and, er, enjoy. It really isn't hard to understand what they're doing, as sick and unacceptable as everyone else finds it.

    "She suggested that more research needs to be done in this area."

    Catching up on overdue homework, eh? Or just fishing for more monies?

    "Salomon [claimed] that the IWF provided a safety net: that while it was true the number of active URLs had fallen, there was no guarantee that this state of affairs would continue if pressure provided by the IWF was removed. In addition, she pointed out, the amount of child abuse material hosted in the UK was now almost zero."

    That just means the IWF pushes the material hosting out of UK jurisdiction. Meaning it makes it harder for the police to take down the material as well as track down actual child abusers. Is it thus a blessing that they're effective at it?

    Also the previously given url count as a metric critique.

    "Other routes for accessing child abuse material were monitored and, where possible, disrupted by bodies such as the CEOP."

    But not the IWF.

    "The IWF report celebrates some 15 years of achievement in the area of child protection. Behind the figures lie a number of human success stories that often receive less publicity. In particular, yesterday, the IWF were proud to relate how reports of content featuring two British girls led to the rescue of two child victims in the UK."

    Two in fifteen years? Or did you just forget to tally the things that really count? No wonder they're often overlooked.

    * which the relevant law classifies the same, but I don't.

    ** As it is not.

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