• Google, Facebook and Twitter are working with a UK charity to remove millions of images of children. (AAP)
The UK's Internet Watch Foundation is sharing lists of child abuse images with web companies to protect their customers and help victims.
Source:
AAP
10 Aug 2015 - 9:56 PM  UPDATED 10 Aug 2015 - 10:10 PM

Internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are working with a UK charity to help uncover and remove millions of online images of child sex abuse.

Internet Watch Foundation, an anti-abuse organisation, is sharing lists of images with web companies to protect their customers and help victims.

Sharing the lists - in which images are identified by a hash or unique digital fingerprint - will allow victims' images to be identified and removed more quickly, preventing them from being repeatedly shared.

Establishment of the "hash list" is an escalation of the efforts to make the internet a hostile place to view, download and trade images of abused children, the IWF believes.

Chief executive Susie Hargreaves said on Sunday the move could be a "game-changer" in the fight against the prevalence of child sexual abuse images.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children welcomed the online industry taking a "more pro-active role" but warned there was more to be done to "strangle the life out of this sordid trade".

The move will help prevent images of abuse from being uploaded to the internet in the first place, giving companies the power to stop people sharing images on their services.

It will also protect people accidentally stumbling across the images online.

Creating a hash of a single image allows it to be "plucked" from the internet, akin to finding a needle in a haystack, the IWF said.

Lists will be shared with internet companies that provide services such as the uploading, storage or search of images, filtering or hosting services and social media and chat services, as well as those working in connectivity and data centres.

Hashes will be created from images that IWF analysts have assessed, regardless of whether they was sourced from a public report, a report from the online industry, an image actively found by the charity's analysts, or an image from the Home Office's new Child Abuse Image Database.