During 2009, IWF took action to report 8,844 instances of child sexual abuse content around the world. Each of these actions regarded an individual web page or URL. The URLs were identified on 1,316 d...
During 2009, IWF took action to report 8,844 instances of child sexual abuse content around the world. Each of these actions regarded an individual web page or URL. The URLs were identified on 1,316 different domains. The number of URLs with child sexual abuse content known to IWF has remained fairly stable for the last three years however the overall number of domains on which this content is found has decreased by 57% since 2006 as the overall domains used for such purposes shift platforms and consolidate. This trend must be understood in the wider context of changes in the dynamic way in which such images are distributed, that is, often randomly generated, opportunistic and hosted on legitimate web services.
There remains a demand for access to child sexual abuse content via publically available commercial websites. These websites are often highly dynamic and have a persistent presence on the global internet. One such website was hosted briefly in the UK during 2009 before being removed. During the few days it was available on UK networks the website received requests from over 25,000 unique IP addresses worldwide, including requests from mobile internet accounts and gaming platforms.
IWF analysts have seen a trend in the abuse of free hosting services for the distribution of both commercial and non-commercial child sexual abuse content. IWF carried out a detailed analysis of 300 websites most used for storing or distributing child sexual abuse images. 51% offered free website hosting or free image sharing services which were used for criminal purposes. This sample analysis indicates that over half of the child sexual abuse content IWF identifies is found on a range of legitimate free hosting services.
IWF identified 461 criminal gangs that businesses to profit from the sexual abuse of children.
IWF also identified 286 instances of innocent websites being hacked to facilitate the distribution or sale of child sexual abuse images and were therefore unknowingly assisting criminal commercial operations. The owner of a hacked website and the company providing the hosting services are likely to be unaware of the presence of such content.
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) 2009 Annual and Charity Report