According to journalists at Norwegian magazine VG, who spent ten months last year analysing and tracing IP Addresses to gain a better understanding of who is downloading child abuse material online, there are around 95,000 people worldwide who download photos and films showing child abuse in its different forms.
As at October 2015, a total of 430,177 files showing sexual abuse of children had been downloaded to 94,989 IP addresses the world over.
For every download, the magazine explains that they have indications of the user name and email address of the downloader, as well as information on the file and the IP address it was downloaded to. Examination of this data by a computer analyst at the magazine appears to have uncovered potential paedophile networks around the world.
The reporters and computer experts working on this project went on to create a map which shows the locations of the downloaders of these images , but the data is not altogether straightforward. Whilst the data appears to indicate that Germany is by far and away the most active country for paedophiles dowloading and sharing child abuse material, the reality is that the quality of a country’s internet connection, and discussions about which forums may offer the best spaces for sharing (because they are hidden for example), may play a large part in the end locations for downloads.
For an excellent summary of this story, head on over to the Cathy Fox blog, where she explains the different aspects of the project, and offers links to all the relevant news items, too.
The articles from VG magazine themselves are very much worth a read. After compiling the list of IP addresses, the reporters go on to confront several of the downloaders, with the majority confessing to having downloaded child abuse material. The magazine’s findings also suggest that all the downloaders they traced were male, aged from their teens to well over sixty and work in a wide range of sectors at all levels, as well as some being unemployed.
As you might imagine, those confronted responded differently, with some individuals stating that they downloaded purely out of curiosity, whilst other deleted their files and in one case, smashed their computer before throwing it into the sea.
For some helpful information on UK law in this area, please access the following pages:
- Internet Watch Foundation – Legislation Relating to Child Abuse Content
- Child Abuse Image Database
- We Protect Children Online Summit (2014)
A big thank you to Maggie Tuttle for alerting us to this news item.