IWF By Matthew Jones
The United States and Russia host the bulk of the world's child abuse
Web sites, according to a British-based Internet monitoring group
which identifies the UK as one of the countries with the best
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported on Tuesday that just over
half (51 percent) of child abuse content was traced back to the United
States and 20 percent to Russia.
This compared with just 0.2 percent of potentially illegal content
that appears to be hosted in Britain, down from 18 percent in 1997.
"The UK has benefited from a concerted effort from the online industry
which has sought to take down these Web sites and from the authorities
which have demonstrated a determination to tackle the problem," said
the IWF's Peter Robbins.
"In Britain, hosts are told about content and told to take it down.
Additionally the government has done its part in bringing in tough
legislation," the group's chief executive told Reuters.
New laws enacted in 2003 introduced the application of reverse burden
of proof -- people have to prove they are innocent if they have
downloaded obscene material.
The British authorities were also very active in arresting and
prosecuting individuals as part of Operation Ore, an international
police operation targeting viewers of child abuse images.
That the United States has such a high proportion of abuse Web sites
is partly attributed to the fact the country has a large number of
Internet users, servers and ISPs.
The enforcement approach also differs from the British model. In the
United States law enforcement officials prefer to track down the people
behind the Web sites by leaving them live for a period. In contrast,
British police shut down the Web sites first and then track down the
perpetrators using computer records.
Robbins said the problem in Russia was a lack of any centralized
authority to take ownership of the problem. He said there was no
hotline that people could use to report Web sites.
In total, more than 31,000 sites with abusive material have been
removed since 1996 when the IWF was set up, but challenges remain.
The growth of pay-per-view sites was worrying because they tend to be
more technologically sophisticated and keep moving around the world to
avoid being shut down. They also often host the most extreme images.
"Some of these Web sites have been bragging about how they have been
around since 1995/1996. We have got to track them down and then shut
them down," Robbins said.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I wonder if 51 percent -- slightly more
than half -- of those sites are actually in USA, or that they are
working with 'USA-style' net addresses, i.e. 'com', 'net' etc, but
located in other countries? I know that Yahoo turns a blind eye on
a huge amount of porn, if my unwanted email from there is any
indicator. I toss out huge amounts of it from Yahoo each day. PAT]