Archive for the ‘IWF’ Category

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See article from iwf.org.uk
See report [pdf] from iwf.org.uk

human rights and the iwf The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a self-regulatory body set up to rid the internet of child sexual abuse images, has opened itself up to judgement by a top human rights lawyer.A human rights audit has been carried out by former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald. He concluded the IWF’s fundamental work is entirely consistent with human rights law.

Lord Macdonald pointed to ways in which the IWF could further enhance standards and processes. Nine recommendations are made in the report published today 27 January 2014 , seven of which have been immediately agreed by the IWF Board.

Among his findings, Lord Macdonald concludes:

  • The IWF’s fundamental work of restricting criminally obscene adult material and all child sexual abuse material is consistent with human rights law;
  • The IWF, although a private, industry-funded body, carries out public acts and therefore its policies and decision-making are susceptible to judicial review, a conclusion welcomed by the IWF Board;
  • That the IWF should appoint a retired judge to act as an appeals commissioner and Chief Inspector to oversee disputes and inspections respectively and the Board should contain at least one acknowledged expert in human rights law, conclusions welcomed by the IWF Board.

The IWF currently targets:

  • child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world;
  • supposedly obscene adult content hosted in the UK;
  • non-photographic child porn images hosted in the UK.

Recommendations in the report with responses by the IWF Board

1.   IWF should in future restrict its remit to child sexual abuse material

IWF Board: A decision on this item has been deferred and will follow conversations with stakeholders [presumably the government] regarding this recommendation.

2.   IWF should appoint an expert in human rights law to its Board

IWF Board: Accepted.

3.   IWF should appoint a senior legal figure as its new Chief Inspector

IWF Board: Accepted.

4.   IWF’s appeals process should include, as a final stage, a determination by the Chief Inspector

IWF Board: Accepted.

5.   Inspections of IWF’s work should take place at least every two years. The Inspection team, headed by the new Chief Inspector, should include one expert in human rights law

IWF Board: Accepted. Inspections already take place every two years.

6.   If IWF moves into more proactive investigations, its analyst training should be updated to meet the further responsibilities inherent in an investigative role

IWF Board: Accepted.

7.   In any proactive investigations, IWF should liaise closely with police

IWF Board: Accepted.

8.   Proposed increases in IWF’s industry funding should be maintained and expanded in order to make a move into more proactive work feasible in the longer term

IWF Board: Accepted.

9.   IWF should not, at present, investigate peer-to-peer file sharing. Instead, in light of the fact that it has subsumed CEOP with the apparent intention that investigations into online child sexual abuse material should be mainstreamed into the fight against serious crime, the National Crime Agency should now give these investigations high priority.

IWF Board: This decision has been deferred. It will follow a peer to peer consultation currently taking place and the pilot project with Google, Microsoft, the Home Office and CEOP. The IWF will be working in partnership to identify pathways to illegal material being shared via torrent feeds and subsequently remove access via the two market leaders in search. This project was announced on 18 November.

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See article from publicaffairs.linx.net

Harris OBoyle Warbrick European Convention At the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) annual general meeting, former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken MacDonald reported on the results of his review into the human rights implications of the IWF’s activities.The independent review was commissioned by the IWF following suggestions that its activities might contravene the rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act.

Lord MacDonald put these fears partially to rest, praising the IWF for the respect and sensitivity with which it had balanced the rights to privacy and freedom of expression with the important task of combating the distribution of child abuse images online. Lord MacDonald argued the IWF’s activities in this area do impact on the rights to privacy and freedom of expression, but in a way which is proportionate and justifiable.

However MacDonald found that IWF activity in other areas may be at risk of contravening human rights.

Firstly, he suggested that the IWF should explicitly limit its scope to child abuse content, removing other potentially illegal content from its remit. Child abuse content is unique in that it is universally condemned by the public and it is relatively easy for IWF analysts to identify. Other illegal content, on the other hand, is a much more complicated and controversial area of law, where legal defences are potentially available to publishers that the IWF would not be well placed to adjudicate. IWF decisions to remove or block such content would run a much higher risk of impinging unacceptably on human rights.

Secondly, MacDonald argued that the IWF should limit its scope to identifying and removing child abuse content, as opposed to investigating perpetrators, which is the proper role of law enforcement. In particular, he recommended abandoning for the time being plans to investigate and disrupt the distribution of child abuse content over peer-to-peer networks. Investigation of peer-to-peer networks, argued MacDonald, inevitably involves a degree of intrusion that, while appropriate in the context of a criminal investigation, is not an appropriate role for a private body such as the IWF.

The MacDonald report is currently before the IWF board, who will decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations. The IWF has promised to release the report publicly once a decision has been made.

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See press release from iwf.org.uk
See 2011 Annual Report [pdf] from iwf.org.uk

iwf annual report 2011The IWF press release leads on the new concept that child abuse images available on the internet are being hidden in secret portions of seemingly legitimate web sites.

The IWF explains the issue:

Criminals are disguising websites to appear as if they host only legal content. However, if an internet user follows a predetermined digital path which leads them to the website, they will see images and videos of children being sexually abused.

There are several reasons why this method is used. Firstly, it masks the criminal website from those who have not followed the correct digital path. Secondly, it means that a commercial child sexual abuse business may be able to acquire legitimate business services if the website appears to host legal content when accessed directly — essentially tricking companies into providing their services for what is actually a criminal enterprise.

These disguised websites have not yet been encountered on UK servers but the IWF is working with its Members — the online industry – and other Hotlines around the world to effectively tackle this trend.

In general the report shows a very laudable near 100% focus on the blocking and taking down of child related material, and doing so speedily.

A useful statistic from the IWF is the number of illegal domains detected. This has declined from a 2006 peak of 3077 domains down to 1595 in 2011. (although this is an increase from 1351 in 2010). Thankfully this seems a pretty low figure for a worldwide statistic. Presumably most of these have subsequently been taken down too.

On the subject of illegal adult material, the IWF received 2779 reports. Only 2 reports were about material hosted in the UK and therefore actionable by the IWF. One of these cases ended up in material being taken down, the other had already been removed prior to action. Most of the other reports involved material hosted abroad. The IWF do not take any action in this case (presumably because the material is probably legal where it is hosted).

There is no comment about whether the recent UK obscenity acquittal of fisting and urolagnia material has had any impact on the IWF definition of illegal adult material.

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See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk by John Carr

BlackBerry Curve 8520 Free SmartphoneLast week my attention was drawn to a notice which had been put up on 3’s web site. It reads as follows

Note: If you’re using a BlackBerry, we can’t put a filter on your phone. This is because BlackBerry apply their own settings to access the internet

Why had this caveat appeared out of the blue where previously there had been nothing? Had something changed? If so, what and when?

At first everyone started clamming up. I took that as a sure sign. Then finally two networks confirmed that, right now, they believe none of their BlackBerry users are covered either by the adult content blocking policy or by the IWF list blocking policy. Another network said they believed some BlackBerry models were still covered but they acknowledged not all of their BlackBerry users are any more.

Why have Blackberry decided to stop running services which keeps adult sites away from children or indeed anyone who has not asked for the adult bar to be lifted? And what exactly is the position with the IWF list? When did universal coverage under either or both headings cease to be a fact? Was it ever a fact?

Was OFCOM, CEOP, the Government or anyone in authority informed of any changes to what was very widely understood to be the status quo? If not why not? This is a scandal which risks putting a big dent in the credibility of the whole notion of self-regulation of the internet in the UK, if not elsewhere as well.

My understanding is that all of the UK’s mobile phone networks have been tearing their hair out trying to get RIM to sit down with them and resolve this but it hasn’t happened. Meanwhile what are the networks to do? Cut off all of their customers who use BlackBerry devices? I am sure some people will say that is exactly what they should have done but I think that is rather an extreme view and it ought not to be necessary when RIM have it within their gift to avoid it.

Should the mobile networks have warned parents or the public or some of their customers?

Blackberry has some explaining to do.

…Read the full article

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See article from torrentfreak.com

fileserve logoUK users of the popular Fileserve file-hosting service are currently unable to download any files as the site is being blocked by ISPs acting on a block list provided by the Internet Watch Foundation.

Since early this week the blacklist, which aims to disable access to sexual child abuse content, has been preventing users from accessing their personal files and downloading those uploaded by others. Fileserve expects the issue to persist for at least a couple of days.

With hundreds of millions of page views each month, Fileserve is listed among the 10 most-visited file-sharing sites on the Internet. The site allows users to store files in the cloud for personal use or subsequent sharing with the rest of the world.

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See article from iwf.org.uk

IWF logoThe conviction of Vincent Tabak for the murder of Jo Yeates has thrown the issue of online criminally obscene adult content, sometimes known as extreme porn, into the limelight. The vast majority of the IWF’s work concerns the removal of images of child sexual abuse from the internet, for which we have an international remit, but we also deal with criminally obscene adult material hosted in the UK.

In 2007 the Home Office asked the IWF to allow our public internet reporting mechanism to be used for the reporting of UK-hosted criminally obscene adult content. Following consultation with our industry members, our Board informed the government of our agreement to fulfil this role, from 26 January 2009, as part of our original remit.

We are able to act on any public reports of online obscene adult content when it is hosted in the UK and contravenes UK Law, we cannot act if the content is hosted abroad and do not action legal adult content. The online industry fully supports us issuing takedown notices for this part of our remit. However, we receive very few reports of this type of content which satisfies these criteria and enable us to issue a takedown notice:

  • In 2010 we issued eight notices for criminally obscene adult content.
  • In 2009 we issued two notices.
  • In 2008 the number was 39.

The reason there are so few is a reflection that the UK online industry provides one of the harshest environments for hosting criminal material. On those rare occasions when material believed to be unlawful is depicted on a website hosted in the UK, we work in partnership with the online industry and the police to provide information to assist investigations into the distributers of the content. The material is removed in hours.

The IWF is not an organisation which makes moral judgements on what is hosted on the internet. We are solely concerned with the prompt removal of criminal content within our remit and we have achieved great successes in this.

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See article from independent.co.uk

shocked censorThey have the power to ban a film, withdraw an advert or shut down a website. But how do Britain’s censors decide what goes beyond the boundaries of good taste? Holly Williams meets the nation’s moral guardians

Rebecca Mackay of the BBFC revealed”

We reject the granting of certificates very rarely. Fifty years ago, we were rejecting films that now we might classify as a ’15’. Now, we’re classifying things with greater potency, because shocking and offending is just shocking and offending.

Fred Langford of the Internet Watch Foundation revealed:

We also took on obscene adult content, so that’s anything likely to deprave and corrupt — which is quite subjective. Because of the shifting landscape, we only act when the content is potentially illegal, and a legal precedent has been set. We don’t see ourselves as censors of the internet. If it’s criminal offline, it’s criminal online. Simply inappropriate content isn’t within our remit.

There’s no place for vigilantes searching for this content, but if a member of the public stumbles across it, they can report it on our website. The number of reports vary from 150 to over a thousand, though that would be an unusually busy day. We have four analysts and a hotline manager.

Louisa Bolch of the Advertising Standards Authority revealed:

More interesting is the stuff around taste and decency, and harm and offence. We ask, is this something the majority are going to find offensive? Or is this something which is going to offend a much smaller number of people, but offend them so much that actually when you weigh in the balance the advertisers’ right to freedom of expression versus the amount of offence it’s caused, you say it’s too great. That’s a really grey area — we will discuss them for quite a long time. We don’t withdraw adverts lightly; it’s a serious business. The meetings can be really good fun, but there’s a lot at stake. If it’s not clear cut, at the end of the day we have a voting mechanism.

Alison Marsden of Ofcom revealed:

Ofcom isn’t a censor; we don’t have any powers before broadcast. We have to take into account freedom of expression — broadcasters’ and audiences’ rights to impart and receive material. […BUT…] The counterpoint to that is that, intervening post-transmission, we have some pretty strong legal powers to impose sanctions where necessary, so there is an incentive for broadcasters to comply.

…Read the full article