Images of child abuse posted and sold online are rapidly becoming more
graphic and more sadistic and involving younger children, a British-
based Internet monitoring group said on Tuesday.
In its annual report, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said in the
last year there had been a four-fold increase in the number of images
involving severe abuse such as penetrative and sadistic sexual
The group said nearly 60 percent of all commercial child abuse Web
sites now sold images of child rape.
"Sadly we have to report new trends regarding the young age of the
child victims in the images we assess and the dreadful severity of
abuse they are suffering," said Peter Robbins, the IWF's chief
The body, the official British organization for the public and IT
professionals to log suspicious content, said the number of reports of
child pornography it had received in 2006 had risen by 34 percent
compared to the previous year.
It found that 80 percent of those in the abusive images were female
and 91 percent appeared to be under 12.
"This is babies, toddlers and pre-pubescent children suffering some of
the most horrific abuse," an IWF spokeswoman told Reuters.
"Sadly the commercial sites are just responding to a demand by people
around the world to buy that level of image. If there's profit to be
made they will carry on doing it."
The vast majority of Web sites were linked to the United States or
Russia, where they are often run by organized criminal gangs.
About 90 percent of all commercial sites appeared to be hosted in the
two countries while more than 80 percent of the 3,077 Web sites that
contained potentially illegal content were linked to Russia or the
The IWF spokeswoman said although the overall number of Web sites had
remained roughly the same, each one was putting out more content with
a 74 percent rise in the number of individual URLs containing child
There had also been a significant rise in the abuse of photo-sharing
Web sites. In 2004, the IWF database had no images that were posted on
sites which allow users to post their holiday snaps for friends and
family to see, she said.
Last year, such sites accounted for 10.5 percent of the URLs with
child abuse content.
The IWF said its main challenge was trying to target the commercial
sites which often "hopped" to different servers around the world.
It called for better international cooperation to ensure the content
was removed, saying one offending site had been reported 224 times
since 2002, still they are around, coming back as promptly as they
are shut down.
"As quickly as we can report them to the relevant law enforcement
agencies, they are probably gone again and in a different country's
borders," the IWF spokeswoman said, "We do not count on the registrars
to do anything about it, nor the registrar's supervising agency,
ICANN. If only these people would work together, to refuse
connectivity to child abuse sites the problem would be greatly reduced."
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You know, considering the fact that
people who operate or use such web sites usually work best in the dark
(like roaches or other vermin) I have to wonder why a few hackers do
not -- in their travels around the web -- when they come across one of
these sites don't just park there for awhile and make a few notes on
the IP addresses and/or email addresses of the users, then just rip
them off royally; snatch all the credit card numbers they can find;
put the names and addresses, etc of the users and the sellers on a web
page, making it almost impossible for them to continue doing their
'business'. Oh, I am sure ICANN and a few other net do-gooders would
not like it at all, but really, who cares. PAT]