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IWF finds child abuse imagery on new gTLD domains

Kevin Murphy, April 21, 2016, 09:33:01 (UTC), Domain Services

The Internet Watch Foundation said it found child abuse imagery on new gTLD domain names for the first time in 2015.

The UK-based organization, tasked with identifying and blocking child abuse imagery online, today released its 2015 annual report.

The report says that it found 68,092 unique URLs with this illegal content in the year, spread over 1,991 domains. It says:

Five top level domains (.com .net .ru .org .se) accounted for 91 per cent of all webpages identified as containing child sexual abuse images and videos.

However, it also says that child abuse was found on new gTLDs for the first time.

While the report doesn’t make much of this trend, it should be worrying.

The IWF said it took action on 436 new gTLD domains in 2015, many of which “appeared to have been registered specifically for that purpose”.

While new gTLD names appear to be responsible for a very small percentage of flagged URLs, they seem to be 21% of the total number of domains on which child abuse imagery was found.

This discrepancy may be explained by the fact that 78% of the total abuse URLs were found on free-to-use image hosting sites, probably concentrated in .com.

The IWF added that 138 of the new gTLD domains hosted “disguised” abuse sites. These are sites where illegal content is only shown when visitors arrive from a specific referrer link.

The IWF offers a “Domain Alerts” service to its members, which allows registries and registrars to quickly take down domains confirmed as containing illegal material.

Judging by its member list, not many domain name companies are members.

Members include Go Daddy, ICM Registry, .London Domains, Rightside, Afilias and Nominet.

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Comments (10)

  1. R. Funden says:

    So they provide these reports only to their members?
    And membership costs up to 75000 GBP?

    If they were genuinely concerned about combatting this despicable online activity, should they not provide such reports for free?

    just saying…

  2. Kevin Murphy says:

    Membership appears to start at £1,000.

    I think there are obvious reasons why IWF doesn’t make a list of domains available openly.

    • R. Funden says:

      I did not talk about publishing them, I said provide, meaning to affected registrars, hosting services, etc.

      Other organizations such as those that combat SPAM or Online Pharmacies do it for free too, right?

      If they are more interested in collecting their membership fees than eliminating the problem, that is their choice, I guess….

  3. Amanda says:

    I appreciate that IWF at least provides an alert system to make members aware of domains containing illegal content.

  4. Michele says:

    A lot of hosting providers / registrars are involved with their national hotlines. We have been a supporter of the Irish one for years.

  5. Nicholas says:

    Hey Funden, Did you actually read the report before pointing the finger? Just did a minimal amount of research and it was pretty clear. The IWF is funded mainly by the membership fees. They have to raise funds somehow. I’m surprised that you think that their service, their staffing, the counselling, the technology, their building and utilities, just magically and freely occur in nature, without need for a revenue source. Also they talk in their material about the need for background checks for companies who wish access their lists, which is absolutely necessary, and in addition free access imports huge issues, access limits, bandwidth, weakening of controls (just a few of the obvious considerations)
    I’m saddened by the inference of your ‘just saying’ mentality. It occurs that as an industry you should be asking the much more important question …why aren’t more companies actually supporting them, rather that bemoaning the fact that they charge a relatively nominal fee for their reports! It seems to be a very small price to pay for such a fight, and shame on you for detracting from their work, with talk of something as mundane as the costs associated, as opposed to their work of saving children and their steps towards eliminating access to images of child sexual abuse! Your comments just seem negative for the sake of being negative… Trolling at its finest!

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