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Child abuse becoming big problem for new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, April 18, 2018, 10:39:16 (UTC), Domain Policy

There were 3,791 domain names used to host child sexual abuse imagery in 2017, up 57%, according to the latest annual report from the Internet Watch Foundation.

While .com was the by far the worst TLD for such material in terms of URLs, over a quarter of the domains were registered in new gTLDs.

Abuse imagery was found on 78,589 URLs on 3,791 domains in 152 TLDs, the IWF said in its report.

.com accounted for 39,937 of these URLs, a little over half of the total, with .net, .org, .ru and .co also in the top five TLDs. Together they accounted for 85% of all the abuse URLs found. The 2016 top five TLDs included .se, .io and .cc.

New gTLDs accounted for a small portion of the abuse URLs — just over 5,000, up 221% on 2016 — but a disproportionate number of domains.

The number of new gTLD domains used for abuse content was 1,063, spread over 50 new gTLDs. Equivalent numbers were not available in the 2016 report and IWF does not break down which TLDs were most-abused.

According to Verisign’s Q4 Domain Name Industry Brief (pdf), new gTLDs account for just 6.2% of all existing domain names, and yet they account for over 28% of the domains where IWF found child abuse imagery.

IWF said that the increasing number of domains registered to host abuse imagery can be linked to what it calls “disguised websites”.

These are sites “where the child sexual abuse imagery will only be revealed to someone who has followed a pre-set digital pathway — to anyone else, they will be shown legal content.”

Presumably this means that registries and registrars spot-checking domains they have under management could be unaware of their true intended use.

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Comments (2)

  1. I’m not a big fan of new gTLDs, but the headline seems to not take into account the full context of the statistics that were published by IWF.

    One would assume that truly abusive domains (i.e. dedicated entirely to sexual abuse imagery) would be taken down and deleted by law enforcement, etc. Thus, it’s really *newly created* domain names that matter. What percentage of *newly created* domains do new gTLDs represent, out of the total universe of domains? If it’s comparable to the 28% of domains that were abusive, then there’s no real difference.

  2. Jasper says:

    A while ago I reported a domain which distributed malware to visitors who came from google ads. And nobody I reported it to could find the malware pages.

    These guys are getting more and more clever.

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