Saturday 20 January 2018

Europe overtakes the US as hotbed of child porn images

Europe has become the global hotbed for hosting child abuse images amid fears predators are exploiting new website addresses to hide indecent material, according to research. Stock image
Europe has become the global hotbed for hosting child abuse images amid fears predators are exploiting new website addresses to hide indecent material, according to research. Stock image

Jack Hardy

Europe has become the global hotbed for hosting child abuse images amid fears predators are exploiting new website addresses to hide indecent material, according to research.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found the continent now houses the majority (60pc) of the paedophilic web pages it detected online, leapfrogging North America in the last year.

The safety watchdog also found a sharp rise in the number of new website domains - using suffixes such as .ninja as opposed to .com - being tackled for posting abuse images, up 258pc (to 272 websites) since 2015.

Its findings come as campaigners warned websites on child-themed domains such as .kids face being sold without security preventing known paedophiles from hosting indecent content on them.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has created more than 1,000 domains since 2012, websites on which are now being sold off without in-built vetting procedures, a charity coalition said.

The Russian equivalent of .kids is already in use without child-protection safeguards, while Google and Amazon are among parties interested in the English domain, John Carr, secretary to the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS), said.

There has been no indication .kids has yet been exploited by paedophiles, but IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves said: "Criminals will attempt to abuse new technologies for their own gain - in this case it's using new domain names."

Its annual report found a total of 34,212 child abuse images were hosted in Europe in 2016, a rise of 19pc on the year before, overtaking North America, where 21,295 were hosted.

It also reported a rise in the number of domains used to host the 57,335 web addresses detected with abuse material - up 21pc to 2,416.

This included 92pc of such addresses found being focused in five countries: the Netherlands (37pc), US (22pc), Canada (15pc), France (11pc) and Russia (7pc).

Irish Independent

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