TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: United States Leads World in Child Abuse Web Sites

United States Leads World in Child Abuse Web Sites

Roy Mark (
Mon, 04 Dec 2006 14:22:23 -0600

By Roy Mark

The United States overwhelmingly leads the world in hosting child
abuse Web sites, according to a new survey by the Internet Watch
Foundation (IWF).

The U.K.-based IWF claims over the last decade the U.S. is the source
of 51 percent of sites featuring examples of child abuse, followed by
Russia (20 percent), Spain (7 percent) and Japan (5 percent).

Only 1.6 percent of the reported sites over the same period were
traced to the U.K., a reflection of the different policies between the
United States and the U.K.

In the U.S., law enforcement officials tend to let child-abuse sites
exist while conducting an investigation in hopes of not tipping off
the site operators that an investigation is under way.

The U.K., on the other hand, almost immediately issues a takedown
notice when a site is discovered. Investigations are conducted after
the sites are closed.

In addition, a U.K. law passed in 2003 presumes a person downloading
child-abuse pictures is guilty until proven innocent.

The IWF also operates the U.K.'s only authorized hotline for the
public and IT professionals to report potentially illegal online

In the 10 years of the IWF, U.K.-based child-abuse sites have fallen
from 18 percent to less than 1 percent.

"The government is determined to do everything it can to protect
children from the insidious use of the Internet by pedophiles," Home
Office Minister Vernon Coaker said in a statement.

"This campaign underlines the importance of the work by the IWF and
the [Internet service providers] to block UK residents from accessing
potentially illegal websites, wherever they are hosted, by the end of

Peter Robbins, the IWF's chief executive, said his organization "has
almost eradicated online child-abuse images hosted in the U.K."

Founded in 1996, the IWF said it has handled an average of 1,000
reports a month involving more than 31,000 sites found to contain
illegal child abuse content.

Copyright 2006 Reuters.

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