Access blocking

The INTERPOL "Worst of"-list

At the 2009 INTERPOL General Assembly, member countries voted unanimously to adopt a Resolution (AG-2009-RES-05) to limit the online distribution of child sexual abuse images.

The Resolution encourages member countries to promote the use of all the technical tools available, including access blocking of websites containing child sexual abuse images.

INTERPOL is tasked with leading this work and providing a list of domains containing the websites that disseminate the most severe child abuse material worldwide. The Organization works in tandem with international police forces in the construction of this “Worst of”-list of domains.

Targeting the World Wide Web

The Internet has become the primary information channel for many people and, as with other new technologies, criminals are exploiting it.

With its relatively low entry cost, wide availability, high speed and perceived anonymity, the Internet is now the main channel for distributing files containing child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse material is distributed in parallel and on the same systems as online newspapers, football results and other legal material.

There are many different protocols that are used to distribute child sexual abuse material, and while the Web is not the most important one in terms of numbers of files, it is the most accessible and visible. It is also one of the places where the police and the Internet industry can prevent crimes against children from continuing undisturbed.

Access blocking with "stop pages"

Access blocking as a preventive police tool has been used in many countries for several years, defined by the national legislation of the countries involved. The police or other chosen entity will provide the (Internet) Access Service Providers (ASPs) with a list of domains or URLs (Internet addresses) that the ASPs will implement in their networks. Traffic from Internet users to the domains on the list may then be redirected to a “stop page” containing information about the reason for the redirection, links to legislation, where to complain, and so on.

INTERPOL has chosen to offer the “Worst of”-list to any ASP that would like to limit the distribution of child sexual abuse material in their network. INTERPOL will provide a generic “stop page” that the ASPs can choose to display to their Internet users that are redirected, but this is not mandatory. Some ASPs may choose to redirect traffic on the “Worst of”-list to non working domains, resulting in an error. INTERPOL recommends that ASPs use the INTERPOL “stop page” or an information page to increase transparency.

See an example of the INTERPOL “stop page”

INTERPOL or other police authorities will not, as a rule, have access to logs and/or identifying data on the Internet users being redirected, such as IP-addresses.

Access blocking as a preventive tool

Blocking access to a domain containing child sexual abuse material, as defined in national legislation or according to the criteria on the “Worst of”-list of domains, is a preventive measure.

No criminal cases are generated as a result of anyone being redirected away from a domain containing child sexual abuse material, nor do the police want to do so. The police will not have access to the necessary identifiable information, such as timestamps and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses.

Internet browsers trying to open a web page on a domain defined to contain child sexual abuse material may not be an intentional act by the person surfing the Internet. There are several ways that this could be accidental, as a result of “not thinking” to criminal hijacking of the person's computer. Accessing a domain with child sexual abuse material once or a few times does not necessarily prove criminal intent.

As with all preventive measures, access blocking must be used in combination with traditional police methods, such as investigations into and the removal of child abuse material hosted on the Internet, undercover operations, arrests, searches, and so on. Blocking child sexual abuse material should never be used instead of the above methods, it should be used in addition to these – in a holistic approach to combat child sexual exploitation.

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