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What is the difference between a Hosting Provider and an Internet Service Provider?

Internet Service Providers, commonly referred to as ISPs, are organisations that provide connectivity to the internet. Examples of ISPs include Vodafone, Telenor India, and Verizon.

Hosting providers, sometimes referred to as HPs, are companies that host internet content. Examples of HPs include GoDaddy, and our funding partner Cloudflare.

How do ISPs and HPs relate to Child Sexual Abuse Material?

When Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is located on a website, this website will be hosted by a HP. This means that the HP can remove the illegal content from the website. Once this content has been removed by the HP, it can no longer be accessed at this website, regardless of where the individual visits the website from. However there are some reasons why a HP might not remove the content:

  • The legal definitions of what constitutes CSAM vary from country to country. For this reason, although the reported content might be illegal in the country it has been reported in, it might not be illegal in the country in which it is hosted in. However, HPs might still want to remove such content if, for example, it violates their terms of service.
  • The majority of HPs are very cooperative, and are keen to remove CSAM from their services. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Another method of preventing CSAM from being viewed and shared amongst a population is via the ISP. Because ISPs connect individuals and organisations with the internet, they have the power to block access to certain websites. However, there are also challenges with this method:

  • The illegal content is not removed from the website. This means that people in other countries, and those using VPNs or proxies may still be able to access the illegal content.
  • Blocking websites is a form of censorship. Although the majority of people consider blocking CSAM websites an acceptable form of censorship, it remains a politically contentious tool.

Many hotlines in the INHOPE network have developed good relationships with ISPs and HPs operating in their country which makes using both of these methods of blocking or getting the content removed easier and faster. This is one of the advantages of having hotlines in each country.

Read more about how hotlines in the INHOPE network work together to collect, exchange and classify reports of CSAM here.

What is the difference between a Hosting Provider and an Internet Service Provider?
10.03.2021 - by INHOPE
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