IWF to share child sexual abuse ‘digital fingerprints’ with international organisation


The UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has announced that it will be sharing its ‘PhotoDNA’ of child sexual abuse imagery, via a platform hosted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves
IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves
The latter - which is an international not-for-profit organisation - runs CyberTipline, a centralised system for the reporting of such material. The platform also functions as a global hub for digital fingerprint (or ‘hash’)-sharing with internet companies around the world. 

With the information provided by IWF, the resource will contain more than 3.5 million hashes of child sexual abuse imagery. According to the organisation it actively searches the internet for new and duplicate images, as well as taking reports from the public, police and internet companies.

Speaking of the collaboration, IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves OBE said: “This will be the biggest quality-assured database of child sexual abuse hashes in the world. We have been inspired by our joint determination to make it as easy as possible to remove child sexual abuse images for the benefit of the victims pictured.

“Child sexual abuse material is a global issue which knows no geographical boundaries. This hash sharing agreement joins-up efforts to ensure that the best service is given to victims of sexual abuse, and that the best efforts are made by NGOs and internet companies to rid the internet of duplicates of child sexual abuse images.”

In other IWF-related news, the organisation has also developed new confidential ‘reporting-portals’, based in Comoros, a volcanic archipelago off Africa’s east coast. Speaking of these, Valentina Picco, IWF international development manager, said: “We started working on this in 2017. For us, it’s about [getting] one step closer to winning the fight against online child sexual abuse.

“[This kind of crime] is one of the biggest taboos in Africa, and the portals are a good way to open the door on the discussion.”

For more digital policing, register your interest and join us at BAPCO 2020. 

Media contact

Philip Mason
Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0)20 3874 9216