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These five TLDs contain 80% of all child abuse images

Kevin Murphy, May 7, 2019, 14:06:29 (UTC), Domain Registries

Online child abuse watchdog the Internet Watch Foundation has released its 2018 annual report, and it fingers the five TLDs that host four in five cases of child sexual abuse images and videos.

The TLDs in question are Verisign’s .com and .net, Neustar’s repurposed Colombian ccTLD .co, Russia’s .ru and Tonga’s .to.

IWF found the illegal content in 3,899 unique domains, up 3% from 2017’s 3,791 domains, in 151 different TLDs.

Despite the apparent concentration of illegal web pages in just five TLDs, it appears that this is largely due to the prevalence of image-hosting and file-sharing “cyberlocker” sites in these TLDs.

These are sites abused by the purveyors of this content, rather than being specifically dedicated to abuse.

It would be tricky for a registry to take action against such sites, as they have substantial non-abusive uses. It would be like taking down twitter.com whenever somebody tweets something illegal.

In terms of domains being registered specifically for the purpose of distributing child abuse material, the new gTLDs created since 2012 come off looking much worse.

IWF said that last year it found this material on 1,638 domains across 62 new gTLDs. That’s 42% of the total number of domains used to host such content, compared to new gTLDs’ single-figures overall market share.

The number of URLs (as opposed to domains) taken down in new gTLD web sites was up 17% to 5,847.

IWF has a service that alerts registries when child abuse material is found in their TLDs.

Its 2018 report can be found here (pdf).

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Comments (2)

  1. Antony Van Couvering says:

    Is there any information here that’s pertinent to TLD management? As your article points out, the correlation to a particular TLD is tenuous at best; it reflects what the purveyors happened to choose for their servers. Can the TLDs do anything about it? Are their policies lacking is some way, are there any changes they can make to policies? Can ICANN do anything.

    Common sense says no to all these questions.

    This report is about as newsworthy as one that says that child abusers use the internet, duh. Why not a report showing that child pornographers use the physical infrastructure from AT&T or Sprint, as if they had something to do with it?

    I guess the better question is, how did this make it to the usually interesting pages of DomainIncite?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      If this blog was called physicalinfrastructureincite.com I may well have covered such a story. 😉

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