‘15 times as much child abuse material found online as a decade ago’

The Internet Watch Foundation said its analysts are facing a 'tidal wave' of abuse material.

‘15 times as much child abuse material found online as a decade ago’ Andrew Brookes via Getty Images

The amount of child sexual abuse material being found online by expert analysts is 15 times higher than a decade ago, according to new figures from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The online safety organisation has said its analysts are facing a “tidal wave” of abuse material, as it called for the Government to ensure the Online Safety Bill is used to protect children online.

According to the figures from the IWF, it has taken action against more than 200,000 websites containing child sexual abuse material this year..

That is a record amount for the charity and more than fifteen times higher than in 2011, when chief executive Susie Hargreaves began her role and it took action against just over 13,000 reports of abusive content.

Ms Hargreaves said that while major improvements in detection technology and the hiring of more analysts have helped uncover larger numbers of criminal material, it remains a growing problem.

“I took up my position as CEO of the IWF in 2011 and, since then, we have seen a truly mammoth increase in the amount of this harmful, hurtful material available freely on the open web. We’ve more than tripled the number of analysts at the IWF in that time,” she said

“In 2014 we were given the ability to proactively search for this material which was a game-changer for us, making us unique among non law-enforcement bodies. But the sad fact is, the problem has outpaced the efforts around the world.

“We’re continuing to build world-class technology which helps us, and companies globally, to tackle this criminality, but it’s the work of our human analysts which really sets the IWF apart.”

She added that the figures highlighted why it was so important that the Government place the protection of children on the internet at the centre of the proposed Online Safety Bill, its planned regulation for the tech sector.

“Our analysts, every day, are holding back a tidal wave of criminal material, preventing it from spreading even further online, and stopping criminals from sharing the horrendous abuse of innocent children.

“This is why the role we play in the online safety regulation is so important.

“We need to see real action now to halt this rise.

“The new Online Safety Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to make sure children’s safety is front and centre, and that our digital future is built around a core of measures to protect children.”

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