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A Call to Help Disrupt the Spread of Child Sexual Abuse Materials

Together we can do so much more.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) leads the charge to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online, and we at Public Interest Registry (PIR) are dedicated to supporting their efforts. We are honored to work with them across two important programs: Domain Alerts and TLD Hopping List. IWF services have been extremely successful in addressing CSAM on .ORG over the past five years. Based on this success and our nonprofit mission, we have decided to sponsor access to the same IWF tools free of cost to all domain name registries—all gTLDs and ccTLDs—that do not currently receive them, in an effort to protect even more children.

The IWF Domain Alerts provide real-time notifications to a participating registry if CSAM is detected on one of its domains and allow for the registry or sponsoring registrar to take fast action before the abusive content is spread further online. IWF’s Domain Alerts have resulted in the removal of more than 5,700 instances of child sexual abuse material across our TLDs over the last five years.

According to the IWF, only a dozen registries currently partner with them to receive Domain Alerts. Our sponsorship will extend access to Domain Alerts to over a thousand TLDs at no cost, enabling any interested registry to help prevent the display of criminal, abusive content on their domains.

Additionally, in 2020, PIR and Identity Digital piloted a service with the IWF to combat TLD Hopping—a practice whereby criminal sites that are dedicated to the distribution of CSAM are taken offline, only to reappear with the same content and same name, but under a different top-level domain.

The IWF TLD Hopping List service counters this scheme by providing a list of criminal sites identified as having a CSAM “brand” that have attempted to traverse multiple TLDs in an effort to evade being shut down. These brands profit from the distribution of CSAM online. Based on PIR’s sponsorship, the IWF TLD Hopping List will be also available free of charge to all registries. With more registries having access to the list, there will be fewer places for criminals running these CSAM “brands” to try to register their appalling sites.

Some of the very worst child sexual abuse imagery the IWF sees is found on these commercial sites. It is our hope that the increased access to tools and broadened participation will allow for faster, more effective disruption to child sexual abuse imagery wherever it is found. Imagine the impact we could have with all TLDs working together to stop the spread of this horrific content.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF Chief Executive, captured it well in saying, “[O]ur world-leading protection against the spread of child sexual abuse can now be shared even more widely, sending the strong message that there is nowhere safe for criminals to target to spread child sexual abuse imagery.”

Interested parties can contact the IWF membership team directly at [email protected] for more details and to sign up for the services. To find out more about how your registry can get involved, visit https://www.iwf.org.uk/membership/.

Please join us in this effort to help keep children safe online.

By Jon Nevett, CEO, Public Interest Registry

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