Four-fold increase in child abuse found on Web

In its annual report, British-based Internet monitoring group Internet Watch Foundation found that in the last three years there has been a four-fold increase in the number of child pornography images involving severe abuse such as penetrative and sadistic sexual activity. The group said nearly 60% of all commercial child abuse Web sites now sold images of child rape. The number of reports of child pornography it had received in 2006 had risen by 34% compared to the previous year. It also found that 80% of those in the abusive images were female and 91% appeared to be under 12. "This is babies, toddlers and pre-pubescent children suffering some of the most horrific abuse. Sadly the commercial sites are just responding to a demand by people around the world to buy that level of image. If there's profit to be made they will carry on doing it," an IWF spokeswoman told Reuters.

About 90% of all commercial sites appeared to be hosted in United States or Russia while more than 80% of the 3,077 Web sites that contained potentially illegal content were linked to either of the two countries. The IWF spokeswoman said although the overall number of Web sites had remained roughly the same, each one was putting out more content with a 7% rise in the number of individual URLs containing child abuse. In 2004, the IWF database had no images that were posted on sites which allow users to post their holiday snaps for friends and family to see, but last year, such sites accounted for 10.5% of the URLs with child abuse content. The IWF said its main challenge was trying to get better international support for stopping commercial sites which often "hopped" to different servers around the world (one offending site had been reported 224 times since 2002)

News source: MSNBC

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