Child abuse images top web concern, survey finds

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Child sexual abuse images are of more concern to internet users in Britain than any other illegal or potentially harmful content, a survey suggests.

The Internet Watch Foundation said 83% of those polled were worried about the websites, 73% by terrorist material and 68% by violent pornography.

Hate or suicide material and those encouraging eating disorders were also cited in the poll of 2,058 people.

The IWF said not enough people were aware of how to report such content.

The organisation, set up by the government, police and internet service providers in 1996 as a UK hotline to report criminal content online, spoke to 991 males and 1,067 females.

The survey conducted for the IWF by ComRes found that four per cent of men and two per cent of women said they have stumbled across images of child sexual abuse while browsing online.

Start Quote

We need to prevent people from stumbling upon this content and assist other countries in creating a hostile environment for hosting it”

End Quote Susie Hargreaves IWF chief executive

Some 91% agreed that websites featuring such images should be removed from the internet. But 40% said that while they would probably consider reporting their concerns, they did not know how to do this.

A total of 28% of the survey participants said they would report the sites to police and seven per cent to their internet service provider. But 16% of males and nine per cent of women said they would take no action.

Some 77% of those polled said computer generated images or cartoons of child sexual abuse were also concerning.

IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves said: "There is clear public concern over the availability of images and videos of children being sexually abused on the internet.

"What is concerning for us is that not enough people know how to report this or would rather ignore it."

She added: "We need to prevent people from stumbling upon this content and assist other countries in creating a hostile environment for hosting it."

According to the IWF's annual report, 73 UK webpages hosting child sexual abuse images or videos were logged in 2012, compared with 9,477 hosted in other countries around the world.

More than half of the pages were removed within 60 minutes of the IWF notifying the host company or internet service provider.

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