The Netherlands is the new hub for explicit child abuse images and videos, with Europe accounting for 60 percent of the global child abuse content, according to an annual report by the Internet Watch Foundation. In 2016, the number of web pages with abusive content increased 19 percent from 2015.
“For many years, we’ve seen the majority of child abuse images and videos hosted in North America,” said Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF. “It has now shifted to Europe, specifically the Netherlands.”
In 2015, 57 percent of websites with abusive content were from North America. The stricter policies enforced on ISPs on the continent to identify, remove and immediately report abusive content to authorities triggered the increase in Europe, and the 37 percent decrease in North America.
Approximately 34,000 web pages were detected in Europe, including Russia and Turkey. IWF removed 57,335 pages with abusive content in 2016 and created 122,972 quality assessed unique hashes for their Image Hash List – digital fingerprints of known abusive images.
Detecting abusive content is becoming a challenge as masking techniques used by criminals to hide it have increased 112 percent, according to the report. The number of new hidden services rose every year between 2012 and 2015, but has decreased afterwards, to 41 in 2016.
It’s hard to build a safer internet culture when criminals turn to the dark web for its use of proxy networks to host content. Because it is not indexed by search engines and is difficult to trace, IWF closely worked with national and international law enforcement in their investigation.
“The IWF is a critical player in the WePROTECT Global Alliance to end child exploitation online. I think we can all be proud that other countries look to the IWF as a model of good practice for their own reporting hotlines,” said UK’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP.