Internet Watch Foundation welcomes ISP anti-child porn funding

BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media have pledged £1m in additional funding to help clamp down on child pornography.

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The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has welcomed news that four of the UK's largest ISPs are to stump up 1m over the next four years to arrest the online spread of child abuse images.

BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media announced the funding in a joint statement yesterday, where they set out their commitment to eradicating child abuse material from the net.

"ISPs have a zero tolerance to this material [and] this funding will help to target those individuals that create and distribute the content," the statement said.

The companies said they plan to work with the Government, the IWF and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to decide on how the money should be spent.

They have also committed to stepping up the work they do with the IWF by participating in a review of its activities, which currently focus on allowing people to report criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK and child abuse images hosted anywhere in the world.  

All four already work closely with CEOP, and are reported to be among the IWF's largest funding providers.

"This additional funding will supplement the existing zero tolerance approach to child abuse material online, adding to the existing contributions that each company makes both in relation to the ongoing battle against illegal material and investment in technology and awareness raising to help parents protect children in the online world," the statement reads.

In a further statement, Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF, said the funding would help the organisation make some "real headway" into its goal of creating an internet free of child abuse content.

"This is a great commitment from the UK internet industry," said Hargreaves. "We are ready to step up the fight against online child sexual abuse content."

News of the funding follows on from a meeting chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller yesterday, which was attended by ISPs and web giants such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

Pressure has been growing on ISPs, search engines and social networks to step up their efforts when it comes to clamping down on child pornography and abuse images online, in the wake of the April Jones and Tia Sharp murder trials. 

In both cases, the perpetrators were found to have trawled the internet for child abuse images in the past.

The aim of yesterday's meeting was to hammer out exactly what needs to be done to halt the spread of child abuse images online, but according to our sister publication PC Pro little progress was made.

A source, speaking to the publication under condition of anonymity, claimed the meeting was hijacked by MPs with little techical knowledge of the challenges involved with filtering child abuse images.   

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