Internet Watch Foundation Releases (IWF) Latest Global Data on Online Child Sexual Abuse

Monday, April 3, 2017


Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has released its latest global data on the identification, hosting, distribution and removal of child sexual abuse images and videos.  The report reveals Europe now hosts the majority of child sexual abuse webpages (60%), with North America moving to second place (37%).


Among the key findings of the report, IWF found a 258% increase in the abuse of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) being used to show child sexual abuse imagery compared to 2015.

Furthermore, 94% of URLs were hosted on a free-to-use service where no payment was required to create an account or upload the content.


Criminals are increasingly using masking techniques to hide child sexual abuse images and videos on the internet and leaving clues to paedophiles so they can find it – hidden behind legal content. In 2016.


The IWF found 1,572 websites using this method to hide child sexual abuse imagery. This is an increase of 112% on the 743 disguised websites identified in 2015.

Further key findings include:



•92% of all child sexual abuse URLs identified globally in 2016 were hosted in five countries: Netherlands (37%), USA (22%), Canada (15%), France (11%), and Russia (7%).


•Social networks are among the least abused site types. Image hosting sites (72%) and cyberlockers (11%) were the most abused services.  


•57,335 URLs contained child sexual abuse imagery and these were hosted on 2,416 domains worldwide. This is a 21% increase from 1,991 in 2015. Five top level domains (.com .net .se .io .cc) accounted for 80 per cent of all webpages identified as containing child sexual abuse images and videos.


Recognising that the internet has no borders, IWF opened additional reporting portals* in 16 countries, offering more people worldwide the chance to rid the internet of this content. 


Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Government of Uganda in September, 2015 established the Portal for Ugandan citizens to report child sexual abuse images and videos. The Portal leverages the already established networks and global partnerships established by the IWF to remove such harmful content from the web.


James Saaka NITA-U ED said “The Online Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Portal helps us actively participate in the noble effort to remove child sexual abusive material from the web, enablingus as a country contribute to making the internet a safer place for our children to learn, interact and innovate”


Raising awareness across policy makers, parents, teachers, teenagers and schools is part and parcel of the drive to make the internet a safer place where children can collaborate, learn and grow without fear of abuse of their rights, loss of their privacy or dignity he added.


Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: “The shift of child sexual abuse imagery hosting to Europe shows a reversal from previous years. Criminals need to use good internet hosting services which offer speed, affordability, availability and access. Services which cost nothing, and allow people to remain anonymous, are attractive. 


“The IWF offers a quick and effective system of self-regulation; we work with our Members to make the internet safer and we do this on the global stage. 


Anyone can report suspected child sexual abuse images and videos anonymously at  Uganda portal: 


Download IWF Annual Report 2016:



About IWF


We make the internet a safer place. We help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. We search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously. We then have them removed. We’re a not for profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission. 


For more information please visit *


Reporting portals worldwide*

16 countries outside of the UK now have customised IWF Portals. They provide a safe and anonymous way to send reports directly to IWF analysts in the UK. The analysts then assess the reports and take action to have the content removed.