A task force to help prevent the sharing of child sexual abuse images online
A new task force will be “fingerprinting” millions of illegal images of child sexual abuse to prevent them from being shared online.
Analysts will assess, hash – create a unique code like a fingerprint – and assess two million images from the UK government’s Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).
These include Category A and B material – the most serious images and videos of child sexual abuse.
The task force, set up by UK charity Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), will then distribute hashes to tech companies around the world, allowing them to be blocked or deleted if users attempt to share the images.
It is funded by a grant from the international child welfare organization Thorn.
The IWF said 2020 was the worst year on record for the amount of child pornography material identified online and deleted.
Its analysts sifted through 299,600 reports of potentially illegal material, up 15% from the previous year.
More than half (153,350) contained images or videos of children who were sexually abused, a 16% increase from the previous year.
Susie Hargreaves, Managing Director of the IWF, called the move “a big step forward for Internet security.”
She said: “We have created this leading task force of highly trained analysts to help spur global efforts to stop the distribution of child sexual abuse images online.
“Not only will this absolutely vital work help create a safer internet for all of us, it will help victims whose images of sexual abuse are shared time and time again, preventing their continued re-victimization and exploitation.”
Protection Minister Victoria Atkins added: “This government is committed to ensuring that we do everything in our power to prevent child sexual abuse online and the innovative use of technology is at the heart of it.
“I am delighted that the data from the Child Sexual Abuse Image Database (CAID) is helping the IWF carry out this valuable work to reduce access to child sexual abuse material online and prevent thus the revictimization of children.
Julie Cordua, Managing Director of Thorn, said: “The work of the IWF to remove child sexual abuse images from the internet and end the cycle of revictimization is essential and extremely difficult.
“We are grateful for their continued commitment to this work and are honored to support their efforts. “