Lack of cash is preventing the internet industry-founded Internet Watch Foundation from fulfilling its remit to protect children from being exploited online.
Since 1996, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has operated a hotline for the public to contact when they discover offensive material online. The foundation then works with law enforcement agencies and other hotlines overseas to have illegal material removed.
Roger Darlington, chairman at the IWF, told vnunet.com: "We need £25,000 to appoint someone to co-ordinate and kickstart our education and awareness efforts. I'm hoping to raise £5000 from five corporate supporters."
David Kerr, the IWF's chief executive, conceded that the foundation had failed to raise its targeted budget and had thus far been unable to put into place all of its plans to raise awareness.
He said: "We've added education and awareness information to our website but there are no funds to co-ordinate efforts and get our message out there. In fact, as well as the education and awareness co-ordinator, we're short of PR and marketing staff generally and need more funds to expand the hotline."
The news is embarrassing for the internet industry at a time when it is under fire for failing to do enough to stamp out online paedophilia. Earlier this week TV presenter and child protection activist Carol Vorderman attacked the industry for not supporting the IWF, which she said ran a "first class hotline".
She said: "I don't believe there is a genuine will in the [internet] industry to protect our children online. I do not believe protecting our children online is a priority for the industry."
Some £258,000 was given to the IWF by the internet industry last year, almost exclusively from long term supporters such as industry groups and internet service providers that have been operating since before 1996.
No contributions were recorded from major web portals operating in the UK, such as MSN, Excite, Lycos, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves, while Yahoo UK donated just £1000 last year.
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