October 24, 2008

Web Users Encouraged To Report Illegal Online Content

Internet users are being asked to help find illegal and vulgar content online. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is launching an awareness crusade to alert many web users on how to report imagery showing minors being sexually abused.

The promotion is a response to IWF research which notes that 77% of people who discover illegal information do not report it because they do not know how to.

Advertisements, e-mails and pamphlets are being produced to teach people how to report the images.

Sarah Robertson, a spokeswoman for the IWF, noted that in 2007 the association went through 34,781 reports from the public who came across illegal material.

While some people discover links to the illegal sites from legal pornographic ones, numerous people inadvertently find such material accidentally, she said.

Many sites harboring pictures and images of child abuse are headed by organized gangs who charge users for viewing them. In addition, several advertise their sites through spam campaigns.

"People might get unsolicited e-mails and not know where the link leads and could end up somewhere they did not want to be," Robertson said. "The message is that it's important that they do report it to us."

Illegal material can be turned in to the IWF by clicking a red button icon on the IWF's web page. People who find illegal content can submit information anonymously or leave contact information if they want to know the outcome of the pages they found.

The group generates a list of websites known to horde illegal material that is dispersed to net suppliers that makes sure that UK users cannot contact these sites.

Robertson warned concerned web users to allow the IWF to pursue and close down sites hosting illegal content.

"It's an offence to seek out this content to view it for any reason," she said. "It's against the law."


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