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Fight against online child porn goes overseas

Child pornography is no longer being hosted in the UK, but international cooperation is needed to remove it from the web, according to the internet watchdog Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

A spokesman for the organisation said less than 1% of complaints about child abuse and exploitation related to UK-hosted websites. She said it was possible, working with Nominet, the UK domain registrar, to close down a site that hosts illegal images "within minutes".

The head of the Metropolitan Police, Paul Stephenson, said at the weekend that 85% of the 385 police investigating online crimes were dedicated to child abuse and child pornography cases.

Malcolm Hutty, a spokesman for the London Internet Exchange, said the UK internet industry was "completely committed to the removal of child pornography from the internet".

Hutty said IWF figures showed that no child pornography was being hosted by UK ISPs.

"The remaining problem is material hosted abroad, often by organised crime gangs," Hutty said.

The IWF spokesman said the foundation worked with 35 agencies in other countries. A call to their hotlines could close an illegal website almost instantly, she said.

"Where there is no agency we work directly with law enforcement agencies," she said.

Hutty said the problem required international co-operation by law enforcement agencies to remove offending material at source and to bring the criminals to justice.

Referring to the resignation of Jim Gamble as head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, the UK's leading child abuse crime agency, Hutty said, "We believe that, if integrating CEOP into the National Crime Agency results in closer co-operation with international law enforcement specialists in organised crime, then this change could significantly improve child protection on the internet."


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