Europe supplants US as biggest source of child abuse hubs

Scumbags host 92% of it in just 5 countries

Europe now hosts majority of child sex abuse images (60 per cent), pushing North America into second place (37 per cent), according to an annual report from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

In contrast, UK now hosts less than 0.1 per cent of child sexual abuse imagery globally, something IWF credits as down to a "zero tolerance approach" by the UK internet industry.

The majority of all child sexual abuse URLs identified globally in 2016 (92 per cent) were hosted in five countries: the Netherlands (37 per cent), the United States (22 per cent), Canada (15 per cent), France (11 per cent), and Russia (7 per cent).

The biggest increase seen was in the Netherlands, which went from hosting 12,703 abuse URLs to 20,972.

Image hosting sites (72 per cent) and cyberlockers (11 per cent) were the most abused services. Social networks are among the least abused site types (1 per cent).

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF chief exec, 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."

She added: "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."

Criminals are increasingly using masking techniques to hide child sexual abuse images and videos on the internet. Clues for paedophiles on how to find this illicit content are left elsewhere, normally in internet forums.

In 2016, 1,572 websites were found to be using this method to hide child sexual abuse imagery, more than twice the 743 disguised websites identified in 2015. In 2013, just 353 websites were found that used this technique.

The IWF further reports that paedophiles are using newly released domain names to host child abuse content. 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, the IWF reports. ®

* The IWF has a reporting tool here and also provides countries with a local, customised IWF Portal, which it says "provides a safe and anonymous way to send reports directly to our analysts in the UK", and says people can email for details.

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