The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a charity committed to eliminating child sexual abuse imagery online, has today (18 April 2018) released figures that reveal a 37% increase in child sex abuse imagery on the web when comparing last year to 2016.
The data has been made available through IWF's Annual Report, which provides a yearly global measure of the number of online images and videos of children being sexually abused to government, the police and the internet industry. The report also unveils trends in how services are being used by offenders to host this illegal material.
Key figures and trends include:
• Confirmed child sexual abuse URLs (2017) 78,589. This is up by 37% from 57,335 in 2016.
• Severity up. Category A content, which includes the rape and sexual torture of children, is up by 5%, from 28% of all content to 33%.
• Disguised website abuse in unprecedented increase. The IWF saw a 86% rise in use of disguised websites, from 1,572 in 2016 to 2,909 in 2017. This implicates increased intelligence among offenders, who may be going to new lengths to evade detection.
• Europe worst offender for hosting. Europe now hosts 65% of all confirmed IWF child sexual abuse imagery. This is up from 60% last year. The Netherlands continues to be the worst country for hosting child sexual abuse material.
• Website brands. The number of child sexual abuse website brands rose by 112%.
• Websites and newsgroups. In total, 80,318 reports of confirmed child sexual abuse were processed by the IWF, up from 59,548 in 2016. This was a 35% increase.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: "Our Annual Report is used as a reference and information tool, to give an accurate global picture of online child sexual abuse imagery. I'm incredibly proud that our Hotline has been able to remove more webpages that contain disturbing images of children being abused, than ever before from the internet. We share our analysis of trends with our partners – in government, law enforcement and industry, so that together we can fight this horrific crime."