U.K.'s Internet Watchdog Given More Power, Money to Police Child Porn

Jun 19, 2013 7:45 AM PST

LONDON — The U.K’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has been given new power and money to help police illegal child porn under a new zero tolerance policy put forth at a special summit called by British Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

The summit included major ISPs including TalkTalk, BT, BSkyB and Virgin Media along with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter, Vodafone, O2, EE and Three.

The ISPs agreed to fund the IWF with a total of £1 million over four years to do its work.

In a joint statement, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media said, “This additional funding will supplement the existing zero tolerance approach to child abuse material online, adding to the existing contributions that each company makes.”

According to the government, all of the companies attending the summit had signed a pledge to take a “zero tolerance” approach to child abuse images.

Under the new plan, the IWF and the police-run Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), will now have “the remit and the resources to take the fight to the criminals perpetrating these vile acts,” Miller said.

This gives the IWF the power for the first time to search for illegal content without fear of prosecution. Currently, the organization said its hotline system gets abut 40,000 child abuse images tips a year that they then forward to ISPs so they can be blocked.

The plan also calls for “any relevant Internet organization” that doesn’t have a warning splash page to have one on their site by the end of June. This means pages blocked by the IWF will have a warning stating the site may contain indecent or illegal content.

All of the participating companies will present a status report to the Culture Secretary within a month outlining how they will provide technical and expert support to the IWF.

The summit was announced in the wake of two recent murders, including five-year-old April Jones and 12 year-old Tia Sharp, whose killers are believed to have been spurred on by abusive images found online.

Ahead of the summit, Google announced a donation of $1.5 million to the IWF and the establishment of a technology database and fund to battle child porn.


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