INHOPE | What is Report Remove?
Educational Articles

What is Report Remove?

For this what is article we spoke with an Internet Content Analyst, an individual who processes reports made by the public on child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Report Remove is a partnership project between the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The IWF is a UK member hotline whose remit is to remove online child sexual abuse content regardless of where it is hosted around the world. Childline is the NSPCC’s counselling service for children in the UK to get support on any issue that is worrying them, confidentially.

What is the functionality of Report Remove?

Childline and IWF’s Report Remove tool enables young people (under the age of 18) to report sexual images or videos of themselves, which they are concerned about being shared online. Once the report has been made, Childline keeps the young person informed at each stage and provides support and feedback where necessary.

How does it work?

Young people in the UK can report a nude image or video of themselves that has been shared online here. They need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Young people are first directed to Yoti, an identity verification provider, to verify their age using ID (IWF’s legal remit means they can only remove images of children.) Children aged under 13 do not need to prove their age.

  2. Once children have proven they are younger than 18, they are prompted to create a Childline account, which allows them to be safeguarded and supported throughout the process.

  3. Young people are then taken to a dedicated IWF portal where they can securely upload images, videos, or URLs.

  4. IWF analysts assess the reported content and take action if it meets the threshold of illegality*. The content is given a unique digital fingerprint (a hash) which is then shared with internet companies to help prevent the imagery from being uploaded or redistributed online. 

  5. The outcome will be conveyed to Childline who will then contact the young person via their Childline account to keep them updated and offer further support.

How do you ensure that a young person is safeguarded throughout the process of reporting? Are they informed of the status of the reported content?

Any young person who makes a report should receive feedback on the outcome of their report in one working day from the IWF via Childline.

Childline ensures that all young people are safeguarded throughout the entire process in line with their usual confidentiality promise, and encourage the young person to speak with a Childline counsellor if they would like to further support. By creating a Childline locker, the young person can access updates on their report. It is recommended they check their locker every few days after making a report. This is so they can see if their image has been removed or if IWF need more information to be able to remove it.

Childline provides information on how children and young people can stay safe online and on mobile devices, as well as on coping, bullying and how to cope with sending nudes and sexting.

IWF work closely with the US hotline National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and law enforcement to ensure that the hash maintains an original tag to Report Remove. This is critical to ensure there is no unnecessary police involvement after the individual makes use of the tool to self-report their images.

What if a young person is worried about their self-generated material but this hasn’t appeared online just yet?

If the child has a copy of the image, they are still encouraged to make a report. The IWF will then assess it and if deemed to break the law, they will add it to their image hash list. This is to ensure that if that image does get shared online, then it is promptly removed, and in some cases, not uploaded at all. However, it is important to note, the IWF cannot remove images that have been shared within end-to-end encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp or Snapchat or if they are stored on other people’s devices or behind a paywall.

The role of Report Remove is to provide a safe place to report and to try to get the image removed. If IWF becomes aware of any additional welfare concerns, such as blackmail, then the IWF analyst will flag to Childline who will send any appropriate safeguarding guidance to the child via their locker.

What advice do you recommend for parents to better safeguard their children from self-generated content? 

The NSPCC Online Safety Hub is available for parents to get information on a number of topics that will help to keep their children safe online. There is a page specifically on sexting and sending nudes, which advises parents on how to support their child if they find out an image has been shared. The main advice for parents is to talk to their child about the risks of sharing images, and to talk to them if they are worried about something online.

The IWF TALK mnemonic breaks these steps into four main areas that gives you some practical ways to help your child reduce their risk and use the internet more safely. The key is to start now: whether your child has been using the internet independently for a while or are now.

TALK to your child about online sexual abuse. Start the conversation – and listen to their concerns.

AGREE ground rules about the way you use technology as a family.

LEARN about the platforms and apps your child loves. Take an interest in their online life.

KNOW how to use tools, apps and settings that can help to keep your child safe online.

In 2020, IWF confirmed 68,000 cases of self-generated imagery, a rise of 77% in 2019 and self-generated imagery accounts for nearly half (44%) the imagery they took action on last year. In 80% of these cases, the victims were 11- to 13-year-old girls. As a response to this, IWF created an award-winning campaign to empower girls, and warn their parents and carers about the risks posed by online predators targeting children. IWF aim is to build resilience to the threat of self-generated sexual abuse of children, thereby reducing the number of incidences. Find out more about the campaign here.

Article Credits - by Internet Watch Foundation

Make yourself aware of the resources on Report Remove and how children across the UK can get their images removed here.

What is Report Remove?
Photo by Brickwall. The children pictured are models.

If you'd like to learn more about topics like this, then
click here to sign up for INHOPE Insights and Events.