Child pornography sites move from one country to another to circumvent the bans

Child pornography sites move from one country to another to circumvent the bans

Every year online, the number of photos and videos containing child pornography increases. 2021 was no exception: as new data reveals, a record amount of child sexual abuse material was discovered on the internet last year.

Data from the Internet Watch Foundation (Iwf), a 'British non-profit organization that deals with child safety, report a 64% increase in child pornography content url in the last twelve months compared to 2020. In addition to the spike in overall numbers, the association found a significant increase in the amount of child pornography hosted in the United States. Chris Hughes, the director of the IWF emergency number, says the organization collects reports and uses technology to find child pornography material online. Most of the photos tracked by the Iwf are found on websites that host images and allow people to upload and share content.

In 2021 from the Netherlands - which as of 2016 had been the host country the largest number of child sexual abuse content among those surveyed by the Iwf (the country is home to one of the largest internet exchange points in the world) - forty-one percent of the total reports received by the Iwf arrived . The share, down from 2020 levels, however, coincided with a peak in reports related to the United States.

Site migration Last year, twenty-one percent of the total reports collected by the Iwf came from from the United States, which occupy the second place in the ranking of the organization. According to Hughes, the increase is attributable to the decision by websites hosting child pornography images to move geographic hosts to avoid going offline.

"A number of these image hosts and forums have moved out of the Netherlands - explains Hughes -. These sites - and there are two in particular that come to mind - are now growing our statistics on content hosted in the United States ". Hughes did not want to name the sites he was referring to so as not to draw further attention to them.

WiredLeaks, how to send us an anonymous report The sites hosting child pornography are constantly moving to avoid being tracked, he says Hughes, adding that a site has changed hosts ten times this year alone. When moving to a country that has a lot of internet hosting services, it can be easier for sites to "hide in plain sight," adds Hughes.

"We have seen a sharp decline in material [over the past year , nda] - says Asda Gerkens, the managing director of the Dutch child protection group Eokm -. This is not a good thing. Many sites have moved to countries where there is no emergency number, nor other methods for request removal of material ". In the Netherlands, says Gerkens, 95% of child pornography material is removed within twenty-four hours of discovery.

Phenomenon on the rise Beyond the phenomenon of geographic migration, the IWF figures for 2021 represent only a ' snapshot of content found online. The true extent of the phenomenon of online child pornography is unclear. In part, the record numbers recorded each year are due to advances in detection by technology companies and child safety organizations.

"There is an increase in incidents globally," he says John Shehan, vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Ncmec), a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety in the United States. By law, tech companies in the United States - from Facebook to Google, via GitHub and Giphy - are required to report child pornography content found on their systems. According to figures reported to the NCMEC, last year more than two hundred companies sent 29 million reports of content showing child sexual abuse. "That's about a thirty-five percent increase over the previous year," says Shehan.

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Arrow Although the Ncmec data shows that one of the places from which the greatest number of reports comes is the United States, the numbers of the country pale compared to the levels reported by other nations, such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The amount of child pornography material found online may continue to grow in the coming years: both the European Union and the UK plan to return the proactive search for content related to the sexual abuse of minors by companies is mandatory. While laws in this area may prove difficult to enforce, these projects could lead to greater control of people's communications and risk causing further clashes over end-to-end encryption, which protects privacy and security. of users. As Apple experienced last year, trying to find a compromise is not easy.

This article originally appeared on UK.

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