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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 17:52 GMT
Porn net watchdog touts triumphs
Man working on computer
The watchdog said it was receiving more complaints now
The number of child abuse images on UK computers has fallen sharply, the Internet Watch Foundation has said.

In its annual report, the net watchdog said the amount of illegal content hosted in the UK was now less than 1%, compared with 18% in 1997.

The industry-founded body said the fall was due to good links with net providers and the police.

But the watchdog said it was receiving more reports of potentially illegal content than last year.

Movement abroad

The IWF was conceived as the internet industry's own self-regulated body to deal with illegal net content and avoid police intervention. It is largely funded by internet service providers.

Its annual report for 2003 shows that its efforts to reduce the amount of suspect content online are paying off.

The IWF said that less than 1% of potentially illegal content was now hosted by internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK, while in Europe the figure was down from 18% to 6%.

The IWF has contributed to a dramatic reduction in potentially illegal content in Britain since its inception in 1996
Stephen Timms, E-commerce minister
By contrast, the body said more than half of the child abuse content was hosted in the US, while 23% was traced to Russia.

It means that the bulk of illegal material is now outside of the reach of the IWF and UK law enforcement agencies, which can only control material hosted in the Britain.

"The partnership between the IWF and the ISPs, telcos, mobile/software industries, police and government is an outstanding success story," said Peter Robbins, IWF Chief Executive.

But at the same time, the watchdog said it had processed some 20,000 complaints in 2003, a 9% increase on the previous year.

This amounts to 80 reports of potentially illegal content every day and the foundation warned this looked set to rise.

"The IWF has contributed to a dramatic reduction in potentially illegal content in Britain since its inception in 1996," said the e-commerce minister Stephen Timms.

"We continue to support its work across international borders by urging other countries to follow this very successful model."




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