Child sex images purged faster than ever before

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Images of child abuse are remaining live on the internet for less time than ever before, a new report finds.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) says there's been a dramatic reduction in the length of time that criminal images remain active, from around a month a year ago to just 12 days today. It believes it can take part of the credit.

"Taking our content removal experience to the global level was a significant challenge and to see such dramatic progress is fantastic," says Eve Salomon, clair of the IWF.

"In every instance where an image is removed quickly, the risk of a child being re-victimised by someone viewing their abuse is substantially reduced."

What's perhaps most shocking about the IWF's annual report is the sheer professionalism of some of the biggest pedophile websites. The IWF says it's identified 715 unique sources of commercial child sexual abuse websites, each with a distinct website name and brand.

"321 of these have been active during 2010. Of these, the ten most prolific 'brands' account for at least 47.7 percent of the commercial web pages we have seen, with the most prolific using 862 URLs," says the report.

"Each of the web pages or websites is a gateway to hundreds or even thousands of individual images or videos of children being sexually abused, supported by layers of payment mechanisms, content stores, membership systems and advertising frames. Payment systems may involve pre-paycards, credit cards, 'virtual money' or e-payment systems and may be carried out across secure webpages, text, or email."

The IWF says that of the 300 'branded' sources of commercial child sexual abuse websites that were active during 2010, the ten most prolific account for at least half of the commercial webpages it has seen.