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Web watchdog outlines porn battle

More than 30,000 websites containing child pornography have been removed in the last 10 years, new figures show. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said the key to addressing the problem was a partnership between the public, global authorities and web providers. The number of these sites from the UK and containing illegal material fell from 18% to 0.2% in the decade. The figures marked the IWF's first 10 years and its chief executive Peter Robbins said reporting porn was vital. He said: "We need to get people reporting these incidents. "Any complaint against something here in the UK we can deal with through the IWF, otherwise we advise the relevant country through their hotline, if they have one, or the police that there is a problem." He added: "It's a partnership approach - we get in touch with the hosting provider to get them to remove it, and try to find out who the person was that put it up there so they can be dealt with." Since its inception in 1996, the IWF has received on average 1,000 reports of illegal Internet content each month - a total of 120,000 reports. The vast majority concern suspected child abuse websites. In its first year, it received 615 complaints. In 2006 it has had 27,750. Although the number of UK websites providing such content has fallen, the severity of the images has significantly increased in the last 12 months. Mr Robbins blames this on pay-per-view sites that use sophisticated means to avoid detection. The IWF released the data to mark its 10th anniversary at a conference in central London of police, local authorities, government officials and the IT industry. Message boards Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "The government is determined to do everything it can to protect children from the insidious use of the Internet by paedophiles. "It is crucial to raise awareness amongst UK internet users about the IWF as a vehicle to report their inadvertent exposure to illegal content." He said if web users came across pornography accidentally they should report it to the police without fear of prosecution. Over the past decade, 51% of the illegal images were thought to have come from the US, 20% from Russia, 7% from Spain, 5% from Japan and 1.6% from the UK. The IWF works with 24 countries which have set up equivalent organisations. Technological developments and increasingly sophisticated tracing methods target online photo sharing services and message boards as well as newsgroups and websites. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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