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May 14th, 2019

Neustar & IWF Partner to Protect Children & Adolescents in Digital Environments

Neustar is proud to be partnering with the Internet Watch Foundation to ensure that the Top-Level Domains we manage and support are free from the scourge of child pornography/child sexual abuse material (CP/CSAM). We are committed to taking the lead in the fight against this content and hope to inspire other Registries and Registrars to join us in this important effort.

This post is guest written by Will Few, Development Manager of the Internet Watch Foundation. Will joined the IWF in November 2017 and became Development Manager in May 2018. He is the first point of contact for all the IWF’s Members.

It’s safe to say that the Internet is one of the most transformative inventions that the world has ever seen – positively changing the face of education, information, communication, commerce and community for everyone – forever more. Unfortunately, the Internet also has its dark side, with bad actors leveraging its great powers for a host of nefarious purposes, including drug trafficking, identity theft, corporate hacking, terrorism - and from our perspective, one of the most heinous crimes of all -the shameful spread of pictures of innocent children being sexually abused and tortured.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online – no matter where in the world the content is hosted. For the past 23 years, our team has removed more than 470,000 webpages of child sexual abuse images and videos from the Internet. Sexual violence against children is a horrific crime that has traumatic long-term effects on the physical and mental health and welfare of children. We are proud to say that our work has led to the rescue of innocent children and spared them from further sexual abuse.

Since 2018, we have been partnering with Neustar, one of the industry’s largest and most well-recognized domain registries, to help stop the spread of child sexual abuse material around the world. Neustar recognizes that, left unchecked, domain names can play a key role in the spread of child sexual abuse imagery online.  It is a problem that plagues not only established generic TLDs (e.g., .com and .net ), but also country code TLDs (e.g., .to and .ru) and the “new” TLDs that were recently created as part of ICANN’s new gTLD program (e.g., .top and .xyz).

As the steward of more than 15 million domain names and 240 top level domains (TLDs), including the popular .CO, .biz and .us TLDs, Neustar has committed to work with the IWF in a variety of ways to help end the spread of malicious child sexual abuse content.  To start, in cases where IWF analysts detect that child sexual abuse material exists on a domain name in the .CO, .biz or .us TLDs, IWF will dispatch a “Domain Alert.” Our Domain Alerts support Neustar to take appropriate action against offending domain names, in tandem with relevant law enforcement and industry partners, and to keep the name spaces they manage safe and secure.

Obviously, the fight against the spread of sexual abuse content online is an ongoing and insidious one.  Criminals are crafty and always on the lookout for clever ways to get around obstacles that stand in the way of achieving their illicit objectives. For this reason, we are pleased to announce that in 2019-2020, IWF will be further partnering with Neustar to build an early detection mechanism to identify abusive domains even earlier in the process so that domain registries will be better positioned to take action against domain abuse faster than ever before.

Stopping the spread of child sexual abuse content is an issue that impacts the entire domain industry, not just domain registries.  The domain retailers who sell domains (registrars) and the hosting companies that host domains also have a role to play in protecting our children from the spread of child sexual abuse material.  We applaud Neustar for taking the lead on this important and ambitious project that we expect will benefit the entire industry.

Click here to download The Internet Watch Foundation Annual Report for 2018.

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