A new task force will create digital fingerprints (hashes) of millions of the most serious images and videos of child sexual abuse so that they can be quickly identified and removed from the Internet.
Founded by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the team will work internationally and create hashes of two million Category A and B images from the UK government’s Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).
They will then distribute the hashes worldwide to technology companies so that they can be blocked or removed if someone tries to share them anywhere in the world.
Category A images involve penetrative sexual activity and sexual activity with an animal or sadism, while Category B images involve non-penetrative sexual activity.
The IWF is the only non-law enforcement agency with access to CAID. The work will increase the UK’s contribution to global efforts to stop the spread of child sexual abuse images on the internet and make the internet a safer place for all.
Hashing an image or video is a process that produces a unique code, such as a “digital fingerprint”, so that it can be quickly recognized and handled by the IWF or its partners in the future.
Thanks to the work, tech companies can take swift action to prevent the spread of this offensive material. Susie Hargreaves OBE, chief executive of the IWF, said:
“We have established this world-leading task force of highly skilled analysts to drive global efforts to stop the spread of child sexual abuse images online.
” This absolutely vital work will Not only will it help create a safer internet for all of us, but it will also help the victims whose images of sexual abuse are being shared over and over again, preventing them from being victimized and exploited again.” Victoria Atkins said:
“This administration is committed to ensuring that we are doing everything we can to prevent child sexual abuse online, focusing on innovative use of technology.
“I am pleased that the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) data is helping the IWF carry out this valuable work to reduce access to online child sexual abuse material.
“Our strategy for tackling child sexual abuse highlights that our investment in CAID will enable more data sharing to protect more victims and bring more perpetrators to justice.” In 2020, the IWF handled a record number of reports of online child sexual abuse.
Analysts processed 299,600 reports, including tips from citizens. This is an increase of 260,400 reports in 2019, an increase of 15 percent.
In November, the Covid-19 pandemic was reported to have created a “perfect storm” for online child abuse, with cases rising rapidly since the first lockdowns began in March.