The challenge of combatting child abuse images online

For six years [see my reported here], I was the first independent Chair of the Internet Watch Foundation which acts to remove child abuse images which appear on the Internet. So I was more than usually interested to hear a short presentation by the current IWF Chair Andrew Puddephatt at this week’s Westminster eForum on online regulation.

In spite of two decades of excellent work by the IWF, there is no reduction in the volume of child abuse images available on the Net. In its last report, IWF actually recorded an increase. In 2017, it processed 132,636 reports (a 26% increase on 2016).

Puddephatt estimated that in the UK around 100,000 men regularly access such abhorrent images. He emphasised that we were talking about men: very few woman view such material and most of the problems of harmful and offensive content and behaviour online originate with men.

He posed the question: what is causing such human bad behaviour? He insisted that, so long as there is demand for such images, there will be supply and argued that we have to talk about disbanding demand as well as supply,


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