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IWF and Partners Launch an Online Portal to Report Child Sexual Abuse

The campaign - Help Children Be Children- will see the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) call on the public to report any child sexual abuse content they stumble across online at www.stopit.ug.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in partnership with the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), National Computer Emergency Response Team of Uganda (CERT.UG), Internet Society Uganda Chapter, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs with support from Facebook and MTN, today launched a new campaign; ‘Help Children Be Children’ which seeks to end online child sexual abuse.

Ugandans will use a designated web-portal www.stopit.ug to report online images and videos of child sexual abuse material. Reporting can be completely anonymous. Once reported, the material [images and videos] will be assessed by trained IWF analysts —and if found to contain child sexual abuse, they can be blocked and removed from the internet.

The portal is run in partnership with Ugandan and international bodies including the National Information Technology Authority (NITA), National Computer Emergency Response Team of Uganda (CERT.UG), Internet Society Uganda Chapter, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Executive Director at NITA-U, Dr. Hatwib Mugasa, said; “We are proud to join international efforts to create a safer world for our children through the Internet Watch Foundation. The awareness campaign we launch today on the fight against child online sexual abuse demonstrates our commitment towards the well-being and safety of our children.”

Mugasa concluded his remarks by calling on everyone to join the noble cause aimed towards curbing this vice that threatens our children’s well-being.

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Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of IWF, said the campaign comes at a ‘vital and pivotal moment’ in making the internet a safer place the world over. “This is a vital and pivotal moment. Though there are people who want to exploit the internet and use it to abuse the most vulnerable, we know there are people who want to help and who will be vigilant against the spread of online child sexual abuse material.”

Hargreaves added that, “We know the spread of child sexual abuse material on the internet is a problem that knows no boundaries. We hope, through this campaign, to boost the number of people in Uganda who can use these portals to do the right thing, and to help keep children safe.”

The IWF is a UK-based charity firm that works internationally through a network of partners and operates one of the world’s most successful hotlines regarding the assessment and removal of child sexual abuse content.

Last year was a record year for them [IWF], as its analysts processed 299,600 reports which included tip-offs from members of the public. This is up from 260,400 reports in 2019, an increase of 15%.

Of these reports, 153,350 were confirmed as containing images and/or videos of children being sexually abused. This compares to 132,700 in 2019, an increase of 16%. Every report contains between one and thousands of child sexual abuse images and videos. This equates to millions of images and videos.

Of these, 68,000 reports were tagged as including ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse content —a 77% increase on 2019’s total of 38,400 reports. Self-generated content can include child sexual abuse content that has been created using webcams, very often in the child’s own room, and then shared online.

In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves.

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