Top 2014 website user complaints: child pornography and illegal drugs

20
Jan

The Safe Internet League has reviewed the results of its Internet hotlines project for 2014, comparing it with similar figures for 2013. As had been the case previously, most complaints dealt with websites hosting child pornography. However, their number remained stable and did not surpass the 2013 figures. Still, there was an increase in the number of websites reported as promoting and offering illegal drugs.

The hotlines poject, offering Internet users a place to report illegal online content, was launched three years ago by the Safe Internet League as part of its official website http://ligainternet.ru/. To flag up an illegal material a user can click the red ‘Report abuse’ button, located at its main page, and lodge a complaint about a website featuring child pornography, illegal drugs promotion, encouragement to suicide, phishing, and so on. The complaints are then analysed by the League’s Board of Experts specialists (linguists, psychologists, criminalists, etc.). Owners of websites confirmed to contain illegal materials are recommended to voluntarily remove them. If not, the report is then forwarded to the law enforcement agencies or Roskomnadzor for it to put the offending website on the official Russian Internet blacklist.

Most of these cases see Internet users complain of child pornography. Specifically, in 2014 the Safe Internet League hotline received 37 404 such reports. In 18 773 cases the experts confirmed the presence of illegal materials, with 18 160 of them getting removed voluntarily. The rest were forwarded to the relevant authorities. ‘It is worth noting that there was no increase in the number of reports of child pornography compared with 2013. It even decreased a bit. This was thanks to the massive public work being carried out in that respect, and the effectiveness of the Blacklist,’ noted Safe Internet League CEO Denis Davydov. For reference, in 2013 the League received 38 136 reports of child pornography online.

‘Still, there was one troubling development we all noticed: the year brought us more complaints of illegal drugs sold and promoted online than before,’ said Mr Davydov. Namely, there were 3 510 reports of that nature in 2014. 1 370 web pages were found to indeed contain illegal materials. In 919 cases they were removed voluntarily. As a comparison, there were 2 321 of such reports in 2013, with 537 confirmed cases. ‘We attribute this rise to the fact that 2014 saw a proliferation of smoking mixtures (so-called ‘spice’), widely marketed and sold online. We’re still fighting this new phenomenon together with the law enforcement agencies and are much helped by the activists who report websites offering ‘spice’, including via our hotlines. For example, thanks to guys from the Cyberguard (the voluntary movement instituted by the League, whose members actively help the authorities to root out and prosecute online criminals), we managed to block several dozens of such websites,’ said Mr Davydov.

2014 also saw the Safe Internet League launch additional hotlines for reporting websites encouraging suicide or featuring malware or phishing. As a result, the anti-suicide encouragement hotline received 4 633 reports, with 3 572 confirmed cases and 2 574 voluntary removals. The anti-malware/phishing hotline registered 4 674 complaints, with 2 197 confirmed cases and 917 voluntary removals.