- Introduction To The IWF
- Chair's Board Report April 2000
- Chair's Board Report July 2000
- Chair's Board Report October 2000
- Chair's Board Report January 2001
- Chair's Board Report April 2001
- Chair's Board Report July 2001
- Chair's Board Report November 2001
- Chair's Board Report February 2002
- Chair's Board Report May 2002
- Chair's Board Report July 2002
- Chair's Board Report November 2002
- Chair's Board Report February 2003
- Chair's Board Report May 2003
- Chair's Board Report July 2003
- Chair's Board Report October 2003
- Chair's Board Report January 2004
- Chair's Board Report April 2004
- Chair's Board Report July 2004
- Chair's Board Report October 2004
- Chair's Board Report January 2005
- Chair's Board Report April 2005
- Chair's Board Report July 2005
- Chair's Board Report November 2005
Roger (right) with the Government's E-Envoy
Alex Allan (left) and the Minister for E-Commerce
Patrica Hewitt (centre) at the relaunch of the IWF
in January 2000
During 1996, there was growing public concern in Britain about illegal and offensive material on the Internet. The Metropolitan Police made it clear to certain Internet service providers (ISPs), particularly in relation to child pornography where mere possession is an offence, that prosecutions might be brought against ISPs unless steps were taken to remove the material.
Facilitated by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), discussions were then held between certain ISPs, the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office and a body called the Safety Net Foundation (formed by the Dawe Charitable Trust). This resulted in the “R3 Safety Net Agreement”, where “R3” referred to the triple approach of rating, reporting, and responsibility.
In September 1996, this agreement was made between the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), the London Internet Exchange (LINX), and the Safety Net Foundation which was subsequently renamed the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). It resulted in the establishment of the IWF as a body with responsibility for implementing the agreement which essentially was a voluntary mechanism for monitoring and tackling illegal and offensive content on the UK Internet.
After three years of operation, the work of the IWF was reviewed for the DTI and the Home Office by consultants KPMG and Denton Hall. The consultants’ report was delivered in October 1999 and resulted in a number of changes to the role and structure of the organisation.
The IWF's work can be seen as comprising three main streams of activity:
For the first three years of its existence, the IWF was governed through a dual board structure.
The Industry Board represented the funders of the organisation and contributions were linked to votes on the board. The Industry Board had financial control of the organisation and was responsible for the day to day operations of the organisation.
The Policy Board represented relevant interest groups and membership was by invitation. The Policy Board was responsible for determining how best the objectives of the organisation could be met.
There were links between the two boards: two members of the Industry Board sat on the Policy Board and the Chief Executive of the IWF was a non-voting member of both boards.
Following the consultants’ report, it was decided that the IWF should be managed and controlled by a single board and that this board should have a majority of non-industry members, so that the organisation could be seen as more independent of the industry which it is in a sense regulating. It was recommended that this unitary board be chaired by an independent person.
The new Board came into operation in January 2000. It comprised four industry members, eight non-industry members, and the independent chair. A revised structure - reducing the Board from 13 to 10 members - came into effect in January 2004. The Board now consists of three industry members, selected by the Funding Council, and six non-industry members, selected through open advetisement, plus the independent chair. The Board normally meets quarterly in London.
The first independent Chair was Roger Darlington who served two three-year terms from January 2000 to December 2005. He was succeeded by Amanda Jordan who served a single term from January 2006 to December 2008. Currently the Chair is Eve Salomon.
Throughout its existence, the IWF has operated from offices in Oakington, just north of Cambridge, because the founder of the organisation Peter Dawe had premises there which he made available. From these offices, the hot-line is run and all the administration is carried out.
From its formation until March 2002, the full-time Chief Executive was David Kerr. Since April 2002, the Chief Executive has been Peter Robbins who was previously Chief Superintendent Borough Commander for Hackney in London. There are 14 other members of staff, some of them concerned with the operation of the hotline and the others providing adminstrative support.
The annual income of the IWF is around £1 million.
From left to right, IWF Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Dixon,
Government's E-Envoy Alex Allan, E-Commerce Minister
Patricia Hewitt, IWF Chair Roger Darlington,
IWF Chief Executive David Kerr at the IWF relaunch
in January 2000
IWF Chair Roger Darlington(left) with Ofcom CEO Stephen Carter (centre)
and IWF CEO Peter Robbins (left) in November 2004
In February 2001, at the Annual Dinner of the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) held at the London Hilton Hotel, the IWF won the award for the most "Positive Contribution to the Internet industry".
From left to right, IWF Chair Roger Darlington,
Vice President of Marketing EMEA UUNET Cormac Whelan
who presented the award, IWF Chief Executive David Kerr
holding the award, and IWF Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Dixon
In September 2001, at a conference on telecommunications regulation organised by BT at the Gatwick Meridien Hotel, the IWF won the award for "the organisation or government department which has implemented regulation in the best interests of the consumer".
Last modified 20 February 2011
IWF Chair Roger Darlington holds the award
presented by newspaper editor and guest speaker
Link: Internet Watch Foundation click here
In my first three and half months as the new, independent Chair of the IWF, my priorities have been:
WORK OF IWF
I have visited the IWF’s office on four occasions and talked regularly with each member of staff. I have carried out the annual appraisal of the Chief Executive and sat in on the appraisal of the Assistant Chief Executive.
I should like to place on record in my first report to the Board my thanks to all the IWF staff for the assistance and support which they have provided to me and my admiration for the responsible and sensitive work which they do with very limited resources.
I have visited the London Internet Exchange (LINX) building at Telecity in Docklands.
Also I have read and thought a lot about the issues arising from the work of the IWF. If only to act as aide-memoires for me, I have worked up a number of briefing papers, all of which I have placed on my personal web site.
Essentially the new IWF Board is now in place. As determined as a result of the consultants’ review, it comprises four industry members, eight non-industry members, and an independent chair. I propose that the names, biographical details and photographs of the Board be placed on the IWF web site.
Individually the Board members are extremely knowledgeable and committed people. While they sit on the Board as individuals and will make all Board decisions as such, they come from a variety of important ‘constituencies’ for the work of the IWF including children’s welfare, education, race relations, civil liberties, the law and consumer representation.
For the Board as a whole, I have had some particular objectives and I am pleased to note that:
In this section of the report, I would like to address not just the composition, but also the conduct, of the Board.
First, in order to clarify the basis on which colleagues serve on the Board, I propose that we endorse the following brief statement:
“Board members are individuals with their own views. They do not necessarily support all the policies and plans collectively agreed by the Board. While IWF aims to achieve policies that enjoy the widest possible support, individual Board members are free to express contrary opinions, but should clearly distinguish between IWF and personal views. Similarly organisations of which IWF Board members are members or employees should not be assumed to be supportive of IWF’s policies and actions, unless they specifically indicate that they are".
Second, since the IWF Board is acting in a quasi-regulatory role on matters of great public interest, it is important that our deliberations are transparent and therefore I propose that normally Board papers and Board minutes be published on the IWF web site.
The IWF is already well-known and well respected in Whitehall and at Westminster but, as the new chair, it has been important for me to establish contacts in the political establishment. The relaunch of the IWF at the DTI on 25 January 200 was well attended and well regarded. We were particularly pleased to have the presence and support of DTI E-Commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt and the Government’s E-Envoy Alex Allan. Already in my tenure, I have met Ministers and/or officials at the Home Office, the Department of Trade & Industry and the Department of Education & Employment. It will be important to maintain and strengthen these contacts and I also want to meet the Metropolitan Police and the National Criminal Intelligence Agency.
Turning to the wider profile of the IWF, already I have given two television and three radio interviews and spoken to a number of publications including the “Times”, the “Observer”, the “Evening Standard” and the “New Scientist”. I have addressed meetings of the Internet Services Providers Association and the Association of Harrow Governing Bodies and I have accepted an invitation to speak at an event organised by Index on Censorship. I have met officials of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Also I have made a point of developing a dialogue with the civil libertarian movement and I have had detailed on-line exchanges with Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties and Caspar Bowden of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.
Looking more to the future, David Kerr & I have met with the consultancy Political Intelligence and started to map out a strategy for making the work of the IWF better known among Internet users as a whole. This will involve the circulation of quarterly newsletters to a wide range of individuals and organisations and the issue of regular electronic news bulletins to those whose have registered an interest on our web site. The web site itself will be revamped with a more attractive design and much more content.
I propose that each and every Board member play a personal role in promoting and profiling the work of the IWF, especially in his or her 'constituency', and advise the office of any identified opportunities for articles, speeches, interviews or meetings.
[Note: The proposals were approved by the Board]
In my first three months as the new, independent Chair of the IWF, my priorities were to:
In the three months since the last Board meeting, I have been working with the IWF’s staff with particular reference to:
In my capacity as Chair of the IWF, I have attended a number of events where I was able to promote the work of the IWF and make useful contacts for our work. These included discussions – arranged by and including David Kerr – with the BBC News’ Technology Correspondent and BBC’s Head of Policy, a Commons reception organised by the Associate Parliamentary Internet Group addressed by the Government’s E-Envoy Alex Allen, the launch of ihavemoved.com addressed by the Internet guru Nicholas Negroponte, and a film preview arranged by the Post Office for e-commerce and Internet people.
More publicly, Ruth Dixon and I attended a highly successful seminar in the House of Lords called "Kids Helping Kids" which was chaired (in a non-IWF capacity) by Board member John Carr. The IWF has given written evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee enquiry into e-commerce and to the Government’s review of the regulation of convergence and (in a CWU capacity) I have given oral evidence to the Lords e-commerce enquiry and attended a Government consultation on convergence.
I accompanied David Kerr to a high-profile debate on Internet regulation which was held at the Oxford Union when David Kerr and John Abbott (NICS) debated with Nadine Strossen (American Civil Liberties Union) and Yaman Akdeniz (Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties). Then, to mark World Press Freedom Day, I represented the IWF at a debate which again involved Yaman Akdeniz (this was filmed and featured on the Internet).
Like David Kerr and Ruth Dixon, I have taken whatever opportunities have occurred to give media interviews about the IWF and the Internet. A particularly useful occasion was an interview for BBC radio’s "You And Yours" programme on the effectiveness of filtering software because this led to a meeting with my co-interviewee, Aimery Martin of Cyber Patrol, which has resulted in an understanding to work together on a major safe surfing initiative. The recent trial of David Copeland resulted in media interest about bomb-making information on the Internet and I gave interviews on this subject to the BBC and the "Guardian".
Revisiting the sensitive issue of ‘banning’ certain newsgroups
It was concern about the hosting of certain newsgroups that allegedly contained child pornography that led UK Internet service providers to create the IWF in September 1996. Investigation of reports concerning potentially illegal material remains at the core of the organisation’s work. However, periodically there has been concern expressed that the current policy of the IWF is not sufficiently pro-active or robust.
As the new Chair of the IWF, I felt it appropriate that the new Board should revisit this issue in an informed and balanced manner. Equally I felt that this was an issue which lent itself ideally to the new, more open and more accountable policy-making procedures which the Board adopted at its last meeting. Therefore separately on the agenda, I will be inviting the Board to consider publishing a discussion document on this issue and inviting public discussion and comment.
Clarifying the IWF’s position in relation to potentially racist material
Arising from the 1999 report on the IWF prepared by independent consultants on behalf of the Department of Trade & Industry and the Home Office, it was agreed by the previous Boards that the IWF would extend its remit slightly to consider potentially illegal racist content. The new role has excited very different reactions: Government and race relations activists want to see effective action taken against racist material on the Internet, while civil liberty groups and even some ISPs are concerned that this is taking the IWF into uncharted territory.
It is important that the IWF proceeds cautiously in this area and that all interested parties understand how we intend to discharge this responsibility. It was reported at the last Board meeting that David Kerr and I had met the relevant Home Office Minister Lord Bassam. I can now report that we have had a further, more broad-based meeting involving representatives of the Home Office, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Metropolitan Police, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Arising from this meeting, it has been agreed that the IWF will be provided with a careful analysis of the relevant law, a study of the relevant off-line court cases, and a mechanism for consulting the prosecuting authorities. In the meantime, the number of cases reported to the IWF has been very small and none has been judged to be potentially criminal. I am in a dialogue with Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties and I shall be visiting the ISPA Council in order to explain how we are proceeding.
Developing the new education and awareness role
Since the last Board meeting, there has been significant progress in the development of the IWF’s new education and awareness role – again something which emanated from last year’s independent review. Fuller details will be given in the Chief Executive’s report, but the news can be summarized as follows:
Following a meeting with the IWF’s Internet consultants KAN and the availability of a post-graduate student intern You-seung Kim, the web site is to be fundamentally redesigned to increase considerably the content, to provide the elements of a ‘one stop shop’, and to make the whole site more user-friendly. The new site will be relaunched in the Autumn.
The new site will include a stand-alone section of a guide to safe use of the Internet by children as the core of our awareness programme.
Following meetings with the UK representatives of Cyber Patrol, we plan to work in parallel with them with co-ordinated safety messages where they will concentrate on a large volume of small printed booklets of helpful safe surfing advice that can be made available to new Internet users. This will point to our Web site for further online guidance and will be launched in September to coincide with a safe surfing week promoted by the Department of Education & Employment.
Laying the foundations for some high-profile public events
A lot of work is now in hand in regard to the planning of a couple of high profile IWF events – one in the Autumn and one in the New Year. Again more detail will be given in the Chief Executive’s report but again I summarize the news so far:
On 26 September 2000, we will have a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton. I have been able to obtain E-Commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt as the guest speaker and our political consultants Political Intelligence have obtained a prime venue in the Jarvis Norfolk Hotel. NTL has kindly agreed to fund the event. Unfortunately I shall be unable to chair it since I shall be on holiday in China, but my non-industry Vice-Chair Mark Stephens has agreed to chair the event.
On 23 January 2001, we will have a Parliamentary event at the House of Lords. Former Government spokesperson for Trade & Industry Lord Haskel has kindly agreed to sponsor the event which will involve a meeting in the Moses Room and lunch in the Cholmondeley Room. We hope that the IWF Annual Report for 2000 will be available at this time. I am now endeavouring to obtain a suitable Government speaker and further planning of the timetable is in hand.
I have now been Chair of the IWF for nine months and it has been suggested that, instead of submitting my usual quarterly report to the Board, I should present an overview of my term of office so far.
In these first nine months, my priorities have been as follows:
The Board has now been totally restructured with four members nominated by the Funding Council from the industry and eight members selected by me from a variety of relevant interests. We have met three times – including an ‘away day’ – and our business has been conducted in an orderly and focused fashion.
For the future, I should like to have more contact with Board members outside of meetings and to encourage them as individuals to contribute more to the work of the IWF.
Opening Up Policy-Making
The Board has agreed to my proposal that all Board minutes and papers should be made publicly available on the IWF website and this practice is now being followed. I believe this is an important contribution to making our policy-making procedures more open and transparent.
At the core of the IWF’s work is its ‘notice and take down procedure’ in relation to potentially illegal content which – in the main – concerns child pornography in newsgroups. Therefore I have spent a great deal of time over the summer in drafting, in close consultation with Board members, a detailed consultative paper on IWF policy on newsgroups. I believe that the consultation process on this paper will be a major contribution to opening up further our policy-making procedures.
Supporting the IWF’s Staff
The IWF’s hotline staff carry out a difficult job with considerable professionalism and the organisation benefits from excellent leadership. I am pleased that we have now provided counselling support to all the staff and, to underline my backing for this, I have myself been counselled.
I have carried out the annual appraisal of the Chief Executive and sat in on the appraisal of the Deputy Chief Executive. We are now about to repeat the whole round of staff appraisements.
I am in almost daily contact with the IWF office and I have now visited the Oakington Office on seven occasions. The normal routine is for me to visit monthly and attend the staff meetings.
Working with the Leadership
I have worked closely with the Chief Executive David Kerr and the Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Dixon in carrying forward the work of the organisation. This has involved the production of a new corporate plan, the extension of our remit to illegal material of a racist nature, and the development of the organisation’s education and awareness role.
The re-launch of the IWF website – with a more user-friendly design, much richer content, and a one-stop shop – is an important development and I was pleased to be able to input some ideas. Together with David Kerr, I have attended regular meetings with our PR advisors, Political Intelligence.
Maintaining Contacts with Funders and Constituencies
I have made two visits to the governing council of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), primarily to discuss the IWF’s new remit in relation to racist material.
Although I have visited the Docklands facilities of the London Internet Exchange (LINX), I need now to meet with the management committee or attend a general meeting to give a progress report on our work.
I have had dialogue with a number of groups interested in our work including the Associate Parliamentary Internet Group, the BBC’s technology and policy staff, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Cyber Rights & Cyber Liberties, and the Foundation for Information Policy Research.
Looking into the future, I want to devote more time and effort to the securing of more financial sponsors for the work of the IWF.
Establishing Relations with Government and Parliament
Almost as soon as I was appointed Chair, I met relevant officials at the Department of Trade & Industry. Subsequently, the Government’s E-Commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt and the Government’s (then) E-Envoy Alex Allen attended the re-launch of the IWF which I chaired and addressed. More recently, Patricia Hewitt spoke at our very successful fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference.
Together with David Kerr, I have attended separate meetings at the Home Office with the appropriate Minister Lord Bassam and with officials from various departments with an interest in the prosecution of racist material on the Internet. I would now like to have meetings with the relevant officials in the Metropolitan Police and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Also, again with David Kerr, I have attended a meeting at the Department for Education and Employment to discuss the IWF's awareness at work.
Together with Ruth Dixon, I attended a Government-organised seminar on the regulation of convergence and a House of Lords event on the Internet and children. I was able to comment on the IWF submissions to the Government’s review of the regulation of convergence and the House of Lords enquiry on e-commerce. More recently, I have prepared IWF briefing for a House of Lords debate on the Select Committee report on e-commerce.
Currently I am endeavouring to arrange for a senior Government Minster to speak at our Parliamentary event to be held in the House of Lords in the new year.
Raising the Public Profile
I have taken every media opportunity to put the case for the IWF’s work and the benefits of self-regulation.
This has involved several interviews with BBC television, including the breakfast television programme, and BBC radio, including "You and Yours".
Articles or letters have been published in the "Parliamentary IT Briefing" and "The Journalist", and one is about to be submitted to Solo.Net. Briefings have been given to journalists on a wide range of publications, including the "Times", the "Observer", the "Evening Standard" and the "New Scientist".
On World Press Freedom Day, I participated in a debate at the Cyberia Café in London, which was filmed and was featured on the Internet. Also I have addressed a meeting of the Association of Harrow Governors.
The work of the IWF is very much a team effort. Once again, I place on record my admiration for the dedication and professionalism of all the IWF staff who achieve so much with limited resources.
My roles are to chair and lead the IWF Board, to enhance the public profile of the IWF, and to support the Chief Executive in his management of the organisation. I hope that colleagues will feel that I have made an adequate start in these endeavours.
The period since the last Board meeting has been a particularly busy one for me, partly because I have endeavoured to give the office extra support while David Kerr took a two-month mini-sabbatical and partly because of the organisation of our Annual Report and our Parliamentary event. I would like to place on record my admiration for Ruth Dixon’s work as Acting Chief Executive during David’s absence and to say that I feel that the IWF is now well-poised to achieve both a stronger role and a higher profile.
This report covers the following topics:
At the last Board meeting, the following non-funding members were selected by ballot for a single year first term (i.e. their appointments would cease at the end of calendar year 2000, but they were eligible for re-appointment by the Chair): Mark Stephens, John Carr, Claire Milne and Nigel Williams. I wish to report that, in each case, I invited the member concerned to continue to serve on the Board and, in each case, the individual agreed to continue their service to the Board.
Meanwhile, we have had the resignation of Alison Ryan from ntl and therefore the IWF Funding Council and Board. The Funding Council has now selected Roland Perry of LINX to the Board and we welcome him to our deliberations.
As we have made clear in our Annual Report, the real work of the IWF is done by its staff. In particular, the running of the hot-line is an unpleasant, but necessary, exercise that is carried out with professionalism and dedication. However, as an employer we owe a legal duty of care to these staff to ensure that constant exposure to such offensive images is not injurious to their mental health.
Therefore I wish to report to the Board that the IWF has engaged the assistance of a professional counsellor to advise on such matters. She has interviewed every member of staff – and me – and produced a report with recommendations that the leadership will be actively considering. Another round of interviews will now be held and this arrangement will be offered on a regular basis. At any time that any member of staff desires confidential counselling, the counsellor can be contacted at no expense to the individual.
As a result of the considerable local government experience and expertise of our Chief Executive, ever since the IWF was founded a twice-yearly appraisal procedure has been carried out in respect of all staff members. I would like the Board to be aware of this procedure and to consider its extension to me as Chair.
On two occasions since my appointment, I have carried out an appraisement of the Chief Executive – this has consisted of a self-appraisement by him, an extended discussion between us, and written confirmation of the main points by me. On two occasions, I have sat in on the appraisement of the Deputy Chief Executive by the Chief Executive. The process is then that the Deputy Chief Executive appraises the hot-line supervisor and he in turn appraises the hot-line assistants. For the two most senior posts, at intervals external comments are requested of individuals outside the organisation who are in regular contact with the person being appraised
I think this process is a professional and beneficial management tool and that it should now be extended to me as Chair. I propose that, at the commencement of each round of appraisements, the Chief Executive and the two Vice-Chairs carry out an appraisement of me. All staff members and all Board members should be given to opportunity to comment to the Chief Executive on my performance. At the point - presumably in about 18 months time – when my contract comes up for renewal, external stakeholders should also be invited to forward assessments.
Recommendation 1: That the Chair be appraised in accordance with the procedure described.
At the beginning of 2000, the IWF took on a slightly wider remit in relation to criminal content on the UK Internet when it agreed to receive and investigate reports of alleged criminally racist content. The Board is well aware of the complexities of this new remit and of our efforts to obtain precise legal guidance on what might constitute such content.
Since our last meeting, an IWF team including Nasira Shiekh-Miller has had two further meetings at the Home Office on this issue when, at different times, the agencies represented have includes the Metropolitan Police, the National High- Tech Crime Unit, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. The Home Office has further recognised our locus in this area by inviting the IWF to be part of the UK delegation to a forthcoming EU conference in Stockholm on the subject of racial intolerance timed to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day [for further information click here].
As far the IWF’s new remit is concerned, the first stage is to clarify the law. The Home Office has now produced a draft of legal guidance and this has been circulated to Board members and Funding Council members for comment. Once the text of this guidance is finalised, it is likely that Government will publish it, perhaps in the form of an answer to a Parliamentary Question. The next stage will be for the IWF to draw up a method of operation for the organisation, which recognises the considerable differences between child pornography and race hate material.
The Board is invited to give preliminary consideration to IWF’s role on criminally racist material in the light of the legal advice received so far.
A key part of my role as Chair of IWF is – together with the senior staff - to represent it at external events and, in recent months, I have participated in quite a number of conferences and seminars which has all helped to strengthen understanding of the role of the IWF and increase the profile of the organisation.
The main such events have been:
As part of this external representational role, I share with the senior staff members the responsibility of briefing newspaper journalists and conducting radio and television interviews.
Since the last Board meeting, my main media contacts have been:
Ruth Dixon and I had a useful media briefing session with a member of AOL’s media staff and we are now considering some refresher training for those of us who regularly do media interviews.
Finally, in the area of publicity for IWF, Board members should note that the Government’s Communications White Paper was very supportive of the work of the IWF and a recent ICSTIS leaflet on “Premium Rate Services On The Internet” and a recent SurfControl booklet on advice to teachers and students – both produced in volume – each specifically mention the IWF and quote the web address.
It is very important that the Chair of the IWF maintains regular contact with all the major stakeholders in the work of the organisation.
Therefore I was pleased to be able – thanks to the good offices of Board member John Carr – to have an important discussions with representatives of the major children’s charities: National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children, National Children’s Home, National Children’s Bureau, Childline, and Barnardo’s. They made it very clear to me that they believe the IWF and the Internet community are not doing enough to warn parents and children of the dangers of the Internet and that we should be doing much more education & awareness work. I promised to strengthen contacts with these organisations and to report their message to the Board.
Another vitally important stakeholder is, of course, the Internet community. As I have previously reported to the Board, I have already twice spoken at ISPA Council meetings and shortly – thanks to the good offices of Board member Roland Perry – I will be speaking at a quarterly meeting of LINX members.
Another stakeholder is the academic community. I have had an especially useful meeting with Geoff McMullen, Chairman & Chief Executive of UKERNA, which is responsible for running SuperJANET. As a result of that contact, I have been invited to write an article about the IWF in the UKERNA newsletter and to speak to a meeting of the British Computer Society. Meanwhile I am in discussions with Board member Owain James about developing contacts with the teachers’ trade unions.
A further very useful visit was to offices in Brighton of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). Here I met the leading staff members Stephen Balkam, Ola-Kristian Hoff and Germaine de Haan. Relations between IWF and ICRA are already very strong with IWF being a founder member of ICRA and David Kerr being the non-executive secretary of ICRA. However, we agreed to strengthen our further relationship. This has already started to bear fruit: Executive Director Stephen Balkam will be speaking at our forthcoming Parliamentary event and IWF & ICRA will jointly host a fringe meeting at the next Labour Party Conference.
Another group with whom we need to work closely – especially in the context of the Government’s White Paper on the regulation of convergence – is the other content regulators such as BBC, BSC, ITC, BBFC, ICSTIS and Oftel. Representatives of all these organisations meet regularly in a Content Regulators’ Forum and I represented the IWF at the last such meeting. Following publication of the White Paper, the Radio Authority has proposed a discussion at chair level and I will represent the IWF at this.
Of course, given the global nature of the Internet, the issues around Internet regulation are of interest to every country. Since the last Board meeting, I have briefed delegations from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Korean Broadcasting Commission.
I often find that my full-time work for the CWU and my part-time work for the IWF can benefit each other. One example of this was when I interviewed E-Commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt for the bi-monthly magazine “Unions Today”. I was able to ask her about the IWF and obtain a favourable quote in the published article. Another example was when I was in Stockholm for the CWU and I was able to take the opportunity to visit Sweden’s Internet Ombudsman. This organisation – funded from a mix of public and private money – is totally separate from Sweden’s child pornography hot-line and provides a range of on-line advice to Internet users through an extensive panel of voluntary advisers with wide professional expertise.
In my last report to the Board, I said that: “I want to devote more time and effort to the securing of more financial sponsors for the work of the IWF” - and this I have done, with some success.
Since the last Board meeting, I have been in contact with eight organisations about sponsorship or subscription. In the nature of such discussions, results are not always immediate and, in some cases, discussions are on-going. However, the positive results have led to a total of approximately £10,000 in sponsorship for the Annual Report and Parliamentary event. This has come from BT Ignite, SurfControl and On Digital.
I am confident that, in the coming months, more finance will be forthcoming and naturally the Board will be kept appraised of progress. It is already clear to me, however, that such fund-raising is a time-consuming exercise and it will be appreciated that I am only contracted to spend four days a month on IWF matters.
In the short-term, I would like to seek the assistance and support of Board and Funding Council members in making contacts for me that would enable me to present our case to potential funders.
Recommendation 2: That all Board members consider what role they can personally play in identifying contacts with potential new sponsors or funders.
In the medium term, I would like us to be in a position to make an appointment (perhaps initially on a one-year contract) of someone who can do the ground work on fund-raising as well as work on education & awareness programmes both on- and – off-line.
ANNUAL REPORT/PARLIAMENTARY EVENT
The IWF has never produced an off-line Annual Report and I believe that this is one of the reasons why our profile is not higher and our work is not better known. Consequently, in recent weeks, I have spent a good deal of time in drafting such a report, consulting on this draft, amending the text, and obtaining sponsorship (from OnDigital) to produce such a report in volume (2,500 copies). I am grateful to Board members for their co-operation in this exercise, which I am convinced will be a considerable help in raising our profile in 2001.
Recommendation 3: That all Board members take on personal responsibility for distributing copies of the Annual Report to individuals and organisations in their area of work.
The publication of the Annual Report is timed to coincide with the IWF’s first-ever Parliamentary Briefing event on 23 January 2001. Over the last few months, I have spent a good deal of time obtaining sponsorship for the event, arranging an impressive line-up of speakers, and working with the office and Political Intelligence to ensure a well-attended and well-run meeting. Again I am sure that this event will prove to be a valuable contribution to raising our profile.
In the Introduction to my last Board report, I wrote: “ I feel that the IWF is now well-poised to achieve both a stronger role and a higher profile”. In fact, I believe that, in the historical evolution of the IWF, the first half of 2001 will be seen as a crucial watershed – a time when we broke out of our original core role of a hotline for child pornography in newsgroups into a broader role of the UK Internet users’ friend on a wide range of content issues.
I make this judgement based on the serendipitous conjunction our first Parliamentary event and written Annual Report, the publication of the ICF chat room report and the Home Secretary’s ‘mini-summit’, the significant expansion of our funding base and the appointment of a new education & awareness officer. This has been the result of a sustained team effort and I like to think that the IWF is well served by the collective leadership team forged by David, Ruth and me.
In this period, the work of the IWF was formally recognised by the Internet Service Providers’ Association award for “Best Contribution To The Internet Industry”. This award is the result of the collective effort of all the IWF staff over a period of four and a half years and I am sure that the Board will want to put on record its admiration for their work and its pride at this award.
This report – which dove-tails with the Chief Executive’s report - concentrates on the following topics:
Since my last report to the Board, I have made it a priority – with David and Ruth – to work on a deepening and broadening of our funding base. Therefore all three of us have had lots of conversations and meetings which collectively has resulted in little short of a transformation in our funding arrangements:
Further details on new subscriptions will be provided in the Chief Executive’s report.
The IWF has always had the full support of Government, while operating completely independently of it. The Government’s Communications White Paper described us as “a model” of self-regulation.
Since the last Board meeting, we have had a number of routine meetings with officials, but also we have had some important meetings with Ministers.
The meetings with officials that I have attended (with David) were at:
The meetings with Ministers that I have attended (with David) were with:
There will be important follow-up meetings to these events:
In addition to all this activity, since the last Board meeting, I have written individually to every Minister in the Home Office and the DTI and to every MP on the Trade & Industry and the Culture, Media & Sports Select Committees sending them a copy of the IWF Annual Report. I have received some supportive letters in response, most notably from Home Office Minister Charles Clarke and DTI Minister Alan Johnson.
SPEAKING & WRITING OPPORTUNITIES
In recent months, I have continued to take appropriate opportunities to speak and write about the work of the IWF.
The main speaking events have been:
The main writing events have been:
I have continued to represent IWF at a range of events where it was important that we had a presence and profile.
In this particular period, a number of these events concerned the Government’s Communications White Paper:
Other events have included:
Other discussions have been with:
As well as the activities described in this report, I have devoted considerable time and energy in the last couple of months to an attempt to broker a consensual way forward on the newsgroup issue. This has involved much electronic correspondence, telephone conversations and personal meetings with a number of Board members and others including Keith Monserrat, Director Legal/Regulation at Thus (owner of Demon). In effect, the results of these efforts are reported elsewhere in the separate paper on newsgroup policy submitted for discussion by the Board.
Finally, all my activities as Chair – for the full 15 months that I have now held this position – have been reviewed at an appraisal conducted by the two Vice-Chairs and the Chief Executive. Following this process, I produced a set of objectives for the organisation over the next 12 months to inform the appraisal process of the full-time IWF staff. The outcome of my appraisal and the text of the objectives will be the subject of a separate report to the Board by the Chief Executive.
This report covers the following topics:
RELATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT
As for any organisation that interfaces with Government, the recent General Election and Ministerial reshuffle have important consequences for the IWF.
As far as the regulation of communications generally is concerned, there have been changes at the top of both the relevant Ministries. At the Department of Trade & Industry, Stephen Byers has been replace by Patricia Hewitt and, at the Department of Culture, Media & Sports, Chris Smith has been replaced by Tessa Jowell. Since I have known Patricia Hewitt and Tessa Jowell for about 25 years, I am quite confident about these relationships. As E-Commerce Minister, we now have Douglas Alexander whom I do not know.
Meanwhile, over at the Home Office (the relevant department for us on content issues), Home Secretary Jack Straw and Under-Secretary Lord Bassam – who latterly had showed a marked interest in Internet issues – have been replaced by respectively David Blunkett (whom I do not know) and Beverley Hughes (whom I have already met).
We had expected that the new session of Parliament would see the passage of legislation to enact the provisions of the Communications White Paper, but the Queen’s Speech revealed that there will not be legislative time for this Bill in this session, although a draft Bill will be published for consultation. Before the General Election, I led a joint team from IWF and ICRA to met officials from both DTI and DCMS to discuss the Bill and I also attended a EURIM meeting on Internet regulation attended by the Head of the Bill Team.
All the indications are that – as we and industry wish – the Internet will not fall within the terms of reference of the new Office of Communications (OfCom), but we shall need to be sure that the legislative language is clear in this respect and we shall still need to establish sensible working relations between OfCom – which will embrace five existing regulatory bodies – and bodies like IWF and ICSTIS that will fall outside it.
Since the last Board meeting, together with David Kerr of IWF I have attended a meeting with the Chair & Chief Executive of ICSTIS and, together with Stephen Balkam of ICRA, I have attended a meeting with a member of the BBC Board of Governors to discuss some of these regulatory ‘inter-face’ issues.
I should be able to give the Board meeting an up-date on the Communications Bill since, the day before our Away Day, I shall be attended a briefing meeting with both Patricia Hewitt and Tessa Jowell.
Although the Communications Bill will not be enacted in this session of Parliament, there will be a new Criminal Justice Bill from the Home Office and it is likely that this Bill will include a provision to criminalise ‘grooming’ activities in Internet chatrooms. Of itself, this will, of course, be a complex and (possibly) controversial measure, but it will also give Parliamentarians a platform to voice other concerns that they might have about the Internet.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
Since our last meeting, the IWF has hosted a major workshop to discuss the implementation of the Internet Crime Forum report “Chatwise, Streetwise” concerning threats to children in Internet chatrooms. The conference was held on 6 July 2001 at the DTI conference centre and the keynote address was made by the new Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes. No less than five IWF Board members and our Deputy Chief Executive were in attendance.
The event was very well attended by a wide range of experts in this area and the group discussions were extremely well informed and most constructive. The three streams were technical issues, kitemarking, and education & awareness. The out-puts of the conference will be fed into the Home Secretary’s Task Force on child protection on the Internet.
My role in the event was minor, since I simply chaired the plenary sessions. However, I should like to place on record my appreciation to Ruth Dixon for her long-term work in chairing the ICF sub-group which produced the “Chatwise” report and for her hard work – with colleagues at Political Intelligence – in organising the workshop and ensuring that it ran so smoothly on the day. The event was a great credit to the IWF and should lead to real improvements in the protections afforded to children in chatrooms aimed at them. Meanwhile I have continued to work at relations with a range of industry players:
Also I have continued to develop my programme of having small meetings with various stakeholder groups to explain more about the work of the IWF and discuss how better we can work together. Following the consumer meeting convened by Board member Claire Milne, we recently had a meeting of teacher unions convened by Board member Owain James. We identified a range of means by which we can put over to teachers and schoolchildren information about the IWF and safe surfing messages and these will be pursued over the next few months.
IWF GOVERNANCE ISSUES
Finally, I should like to use this report to raise a number of organisational or governance issues.
First, so long as I have been IWF Chair, we have been talking about the need to do much more work on education & awareness and the need to appoint an Education & Awareness Manager. I like to think that I paid a part in raising the extra subscriptions that has now enabled this appointment to take place and I was pleased to have the opportunity to conduct the final interview for the post. I am delighted that we have appointed someone of the calibre of Jennifer Perry and I look forward very much to working closely with her.
Second, I should like us to take the opportunity of our Away Day and the election of a new Chair for the Funding Council to discuss the respective roles of the Funding Council and the main Board.
My understanding has always been that the role of the Council was to raise the necessary funds for the IWF and ensure proper management and accountability of the spending of these funds. This meant that it is role of the Board to determine the policies of the organisation which in turn will determine how that money is spent. My concern is that the Funding Council appears to have spent too much time discussing policy and too little time discussing fund-raising which – if I am right - means that there is now some blurring of roles. The Away Day is an opportunity to discuss this informally and for Board views to be taken back to the Funding Council. Naturally I would be pleased to attend a meeting of the Council if this would be thought helpful.
Third, I should like us to take the opportunity of both the Away Day and the Board meeting to discuss the future balance between the full-time Chief Executive and the part-time Chair.
I am quite clear that the Chair should be part-time and less than half-time, so that there is no confusion with the line management role of the Chief Executive. However, I have found that my present contractual arrangements, whereby notionally I give four days a month to the IWF, is not in accordance either with the reality of events or with the needs of the organisation.
If the Board was willing to:
I would undertake to:
Chair's Activity Report
Since the last Board meeting, my work for and involvement in IWF matters have been dominated by efforts to implement the new policy on newsgroups and the reaction to that policy. This has led me to prepare a separate paper, with recommendations, on this subject.
This particular report records the other main activities that have engaged me as IWF Chair since the last meeting.
As well as David Kerr and Ruth Dixon, I have continued to be involved in the deliberations of the Home Office Task Force on the Internet and child protection, attending several sub-group meetings and a meeting of the full Task Force chaired by the Minister Beverley Hughes.
I would draw colleagues attention to two particular developments arising from this work:
As usual, I have visited the Oakington offices on a regular basis, usually each month to coincide with the staff meeting. During these visits, I have conducted an exit interview for a departing Internet content analyst and an interim appraisal for David Kerr.
I have attended a number of social events in Brighton, most of them around the Trades Union Congress and Labour Party Conference. These include receptions hosted by BT and AOL and dinners hosted by the Internet Content Rating Association and the Communication Mangers Association. Also at Brighton I chaired a successful IWF fringe meeting addressed by Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes and our own David Kerr.
Together with Ruth Dixon, I attended a discussion with our PR advisers Political Intelligence to plan a number of future initiatives on the political and media fronts. Also, during a visit to Brussels on non-IWF business, I took the opportunity to visit the Belgian office of Political Intelligence and discussed European initiatives concerning the Internet.
Most recently I attended the sixth birthday reception for the London Internet Exchange. All of these were useful networking opportunities.
I have participated in an e-commerce panel convened by the eBusiness Forum of the Communication Managers' Association at the House of Commons. Also, by the time of the next Board meeting, I will have made a presentation on Internet regulation at an Anglo-Chinese Government conference held in Beijing (all my costs met by the Department of Trade & Industry!).
On the fringes of the Beijing conference,
Roger discusses an esoteric point of communications regulation with
David Edmonds, Director-General of Telecommunications for the UK
The only domestic broadcasting appearance that I have made in this period was on Radio 5’s Nicky Campbell show which is a live event. I contributed to a discussion and phone-in on the danger to children of chat rooms. However, I did take the opportunity to do a radio interview with Austrian national radio on the Code Red virus when I ventured to suggest that on 1 August the Internet would not crash!
Finally I wish to record my attendance at a dinner to mark the end of a BT conference on telecommunications regulation when there was the presentation of a new annual award to “The organisation or Government department which has implemented regulation in the best interests of the consumer”.
The IWF won this award which was presented to me by newspaper editor Andrew Neil. Clearly this award is recognition of five years commitment and dedication by David Kerr, Ruth Dixon and all the staff of the IWF and I wish to place on record my appreciation to them all for their excellent work.
Chair's Policy Report
Since the last Board meeting, my work for and involvement in IWF matters have been dominated by efforts to implement the new policy on newsgroups and the reaction to that policy.
I have written out on the new policy to:
In addition, I have had many discussions with individuals from these organisations. I have noted carefully the media reaction to our work. Finally, I have followed closely the extensive e-mail exchanges between Board and Funding Council members.
What has become increasingly clear to me is that even the new newsgroup policy is not keeping pace with the change of opinion on this matter and our difficulty in keeping up with this change of opinion has raised concerns regarding the whole governance of the IWF.
Of course, the children’s organisations have consistently made clear their view that we are not taking a robust enough line on newsgroups. Since our last meeting, this view has been reinforced to me and both Board members representing children’s organisations have made very plain their belief that we should be taking a stronger line on newsgroups.
At the last couple of Board meetings, I have indicated to colleagues my view that opinion in the ISP community has been changing towards a more restrictive position on the hosting of the relevant newsgroups. I believe that, even in the relatively short time since our last meeting, opinion has changed further. Evidence for this is contained in the replies which I am now receiving to my letter to ISPs announcing the new policy and, nearer the actual date of the next Board meeting, I shall present to the Board the texts of the replies received by the time of that meeting.
There are growing concerns within the Home Office about the direction of the IWF and the continuing reliance being placed on the original “R3 Safety Net” agreement of 1996 and the KPMG/Denton Hall report of 1999 which Ministers do not regard as necessarily appropriate to the situation as we approach 2002.
In response to my letter to the Home Office announcing the new policy, the Minister Beverley Hughes wrote to me in the terms reproduced as Annex A. Her disquiet is evident. As well as this correspondence, I have been at three meetings – two of which I chaired - where she has expressed her views on the Internet and child protection and I have sought, and been promised, a meeting with her specifically to discuss the role of the IWF. Meanwhile I have attended several Internet Task Force sub-group meetings and had a number of conversations where Home Office officials have underlined to me the reservations of Ministers about the newsgroup stance and overall governance of the IWF.
Of course, the IWF is a self-regulatory model, which is independent of government. However, self-regulation can only work if we have the respect and support of government.
My concern is that, if we do not take early steps to take on board the concerns of the children’s groups and the public and to reflect the changing opinion among many ISPs themselves, we will lose the confidence of key stakeholders, most notably government itself. If that happens, at best we will become increasingly less relevant and proposals such as an Internet clearing house will pass us by and, at worse, government will be inclined to intervene in a manner which will negate the self-regulatory model and be very unwelcome to the ISP community.
In the light of this analysis, I wish to submit to the Board a series of recommendations which, in my considered judgement, are the minimum necessary to maintain the credibility of the IWF and its support by key stakeholders at this critical time.
Recommendation 1: The IWF recommends all ISPs serving UK customers not to host newsgroups which the IWF identifies as regularly containing child pornography, the criteria for “regular” being determined by a body representing the relevant stakeholders such as the Internet Crime Forum.
Recommendation 2: The IWF recommends all ISPs serving UK customers not to host newsgroups which have names which appear to advertise or advocate paedophile content or activity, the actual names being determined by an independent panel constituted by the Chair and Vice-Chairs.
Recommendation 3: The IWF draws up a code of practice covering the conduct expected of ISPs who are subscribers to IWF, a draft of this code to be submitted to the next Board meeting for endorsement.
Recommendation 4: The Chair and Vice Chairs draft a statement of objectives for the IWF for inclusion in the constitution, the text being submitted to the Board as an amendment to the existing constitution requiring a “special vote” as defined by that constitution.
Recommendation 5: The Chair and Vice Chairs initiate a process of consultation with all interested parties concerning the size and composition of the Board, the selection process for members, and any other relevant matters of governance, any recommendations for change being submitted to the Board as amendments to the existing constitution requiring a “special vote” as defined by that constitution.
Recommendation 6: Pending the outcome of the review in the previous recommendation, the term of any Board member appointment which would otherwise expire or be renewed be simply rolled forward until the review is completed.
"Thank you for your letter of 15 August advising me of the Internet Watch Foundation's new policy on newsgroups following your consultation exercise concerning the issue of child pornography in newsgroups.
The misuse of the Internet to distribute images of child abuse is rightly an issue of much public concern and something that the Government believes should not be tolerated in any circumstances. I note that the IWF will be advising Internet Service Providers (ISPs) more regularly about those newsgroups, which contain potentially illegal material. No responsible UK ISP should be offering their customers access to newsgroups that contain sickening images of child abuse and sexual assault.
I am very disappointed that you are not advising ISPs directly not to host these newsgroups and are merely inviting them to review their policy on hosting such newsgroups. I would expect you to be conducting that review as a matter of urgency and be reporting your findings by the end of the year.
I can see no justification for any UK ISP to provide access to newsgroups, which regularly contain child pornography. I will be writing to ISPA and to certain ISPs myself to make this point clear."
The period since the last Board meeting has been a critical one for the reputation and standing of the IWF. My priority has been to move forward the five reviews that we agreed at the last meeting, so that we can reposition the organisation and command the support of all the key stakeholders.
This has involved me taking the lead in the reviews on objectives and governance (separate papers are being submitted on these two reviews) and encouraging progress in the reviews concerning newsgroups regularly hosting child pornography, newsgroups appearing to support paedophilia, and a Code of Practice for members. I have had to have a lot of contact - e-mail and telephone calls plus face-to-face discussions and meetings - with a wide variety of individuals and organisations in a effort to achieve the widest possible consensus on how best to move forward with our reform agenda.
RELATIONS WITH IWF STAFF
I have continued to have almost daily contact with the executive and make monthly visits to the staff at Oakington. Since my last report, two members of staff have left the organisation and, as has been the routine since I became Chair, I conducted exit interview with them.
Throughout my two years as Chair of IWF, I have been aware that it is important for me to make a clear distinction between my role, which is to provide a strategic direction and a external interface, and the role of the executive, which includes the day-to-day management of the organisation. While these respective roles certainly inter-act, it is not my job to line manage the organisation or to challenge the management style of the executive.
For a variety of reasons which will be well understood by the Board, this has been an exceptionally challenging period for all the staff of the IWF and most particularly for its executive. As Chair, I want to place on record once more my appreciation for the hard work and professionalism of all the staff and my confidence in the leadership provided by David Kerr and Ruth Dixon.
A vitally important and time-consuming part of my work for IWF in the last couple of months has been managing the selection process for a new Chief Executive. Over 40 applications were received for the post. A selection panel was established, comprising myself as Chair, Roland Perry as a representative of the industry Board members, Nigel Williams as the representative of the non-industry Board members, and Baroness Howarth - formerly Chief Executive of Childline - as the independent member.
Six candidates were interviewed on 4 February 2002 and Peter Robbins was appointed. He will commence work with the IWF on 1 April 2002. I am sure that he will be a considerable asset to the organisation.
Although I am not a member of the IWF's staff, I do have a contract with the organisation. Therefore I think it appropriate that I advise Board members of a forthcoming change in my work arrangements.
I have been diagnosed with a condition called pathological myopia in one eye and warned that there is a serious risk of me developing the same condition in the other eye. Therefore, at the end of March, I will take medical retirement from the Communication Workers Union and cease to be organisation's Head of Research.
I will continue to work part-time for the CWU on a contract basis, assisting the General Secretary on a range of strategic issues. Also I will continue to work one day a week for the IWF. However, these new arrangements should enable me to achieve a better work-life balance and to make fuller use of such time I have with my more limited vision.
RELATIONS WITH THE BOARD AND FUNDING COUNCIL
As colleagues are well aware, the four industry members of the Board are elected by the Funding Council. Since our last meeting, Clive Feather of Thus has stepped down and Howard Lamb of Energis has been elected as his replacement.
Resolution 1: The Board places on record its deep appreciation to Clive Feather for all his work in assisting the creation of the IWF and in serving in a senior capacity on its governing bodies for five years.
Resolution 2: The Board welcomes Howard Lamb as a new representative of the Funding Council.
As colleagues are equally well aware, the eight non-industry members of the Board are selected by me as Chair, four of these members had terms expiring at the end of 2001, and - in spite of our review of governance - the last Board meeting invited me to continue the process of renewal or replacement as normal.
In respect of Ceris Bergen, I have invited her to serve another term on the Board.
Resolution 3: The Board endorses the further term of Ceris Bergen.
In respect of Malcolm Hutty, I have invited him to serve another term on the Board.
Resolution 4: The Board endorses the further term of Malcolm Hutty.
In respect of Nasira Sheikh-Miller, I have agreed with her that she will step down from the Board. I have invited Sonia Livingstone to join the Board (biographical details have been supplied earlier) and I have had a meeting with her to brief her on the current situation.
Resolution 5: The Board thanks Nasira Sheikh-Miller for her two years service on the Board.
Resolution 6: The Board endorses Sonia Livingstone as a member of the Board.
In respect of Owain James, I have agreed with him that he will step down from the Board and I have invited Jim Reynolds to join the Board (biographical details have been supplied earlier) and I have had a meeting with him to brief him on the current situation.
Resolution 7: The Board thanks Owain James for his two years service on the Board.
Resolution 8: The Board endorses Jim Reynolds as a member of the Board.
In the rather frenetic atmosphere in which our current reviews are being conducted, it has become apparent to me that my relations with the Funding Council are not as good as they could be. Therefore I have made a point of having a most useful meeting with the FC Chair Grahame Davies and involving him in my meetings in Whitehall. Also I have taken the opportunity to have a number of discussions with individual FC members which has made clear that the industry has a number of viewpoints on many of the issues currently exercising us.
For whatever reason, in my two years as Chair of the Board, I have never had an opportunity to attend a meeting of the Funding Council and therefore I hope to be able to attend a FC meeting soon.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
It has become apparent in recent months that relations with Government, or at least the Home Office, as not as close as they have been. I have been working hard at putting this right.
I have liaised closely with Home Office officials and corresponded with the Home Secretary David Blunkett and the junior minister Beverley Hughes. I am continuing to seek a meeting with Beverley Hughes who has been heavily involved in anti-terrorism legislation.
Meanwhile, accompanied by the Chair of the Funding Council, I have had meetings with senior officials at both the Department of Trade & Industry and the E-Envoy's Office. The messages we have put are:
Therefore, in the New Year, with the logistical support of Political Intelligence, I wrote to all 658 MPs sending them a short briefing paper and offering any further information. A number of MPs have indicated a particular interest in these issues and therefore I am now arranging meetings with several of them.
The IWF has many stakeholders and maintaining close and active content with them all in no easy matter, especially when the Internet is developing so rapidly and there is so much public debate about issues of content, contact and commerce.
Since the last Board meeting:
In the last few months, I have had a number of opportunities to publicise the work of the IWF through the media. I gave interviews to the "Glasgow Evening News", which resulted in a major feature, and to Guy Kewney, which resulted in pieces in two computer magazines. Also I gave interviews to two regional television channels: Granada and Meridian.
Finally I gave a live Powerpoint presentation in New Zealand without ever leaving Britain. I used a video-conferencing facility in a central London BT building. It was 8.30 pm at night in Britain and 9.30 am the next morning in New Zealand. The power of modern communications!
As usual, for me as IWF Chair the period since the last Board meeting has involved an interesting mixture of meetings, speaking events and media opportunities. These are summarized in this report to the Board.
The period has also been one of profound change in terms of people, policies and finances. In this report, I will concentrate on the people and policy changes and leave the financial issues to the Chief Executive's report. The prospects for the organisation are good, but there are some key transitional issues to be managed.
The meetings attended included:
The speeches made included:
The media appearances included:
After leading the IWF for some five years, both the Chief Executive David Kerr and the Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Dixon have now left the organisation. They made a considerable contribution to the reputation of the IWF and therefore it was right and fitting that we had a retirement event for them in Parliament's Portcullis House. This was an opportunity too to launch our latest Annual Review - kindly sponsored by AOL UK - which set out in some detail the work of the last year and summarized the achievements of the last five years. I was pleased to chair this event and meet friends of David & Ruth and supporters of IWF. I have conducted an exit interview with Ruth and I will be doing a final appraisal with David.
The leadership of the IWF has now passed to our new Chief Executive Peter Robbins who started work with us on 1 April 2002. I have had a series of wide-ranging and intensive discussions with Peter about all aspects of the work of IWF and he has made a point of having a comprehensive round of meetings with staff, Board members and Funding Council members.
I wish to place on record my admiration at how quickly Peter has come to grips with the IWF's complex agenda and at the new energy and focus that he has already brought to the organisation. In such a small organisation as the IWF, the Chair's role is inevitably shaped by the personality and style of the Chief Executive and Peter and I are evolving a new balance based on mutual respect and regular communication. This new leadership model may, in some respects, be different from the past, but my hope and belief is that it will enable IWF to move to new heights and strengths.
Meanwhile there have been a change on the Board and many changes on the Funding Council.
As far as the Board is concerned, at the last meeting, Malcolm Hutty resigned because of his disagreement with some of the new policies decided by that meeting. Unfortunately his public statements since then have misrepresented substantially both the nature of those policies and how they were arrive at.
However, we now have to move on and we have a vacancy on the Board. I have not rushed to fill it, partly to allow the dust to settle and partly because of some expressions of concern about the Chair's role in the appointment of new Board members. Therefore I should like the Board to give me some guidance as to how it would like this position to be filled and what kind of individual would be most appropriate to fill it.
As far as the Funding Council is concerned, together with Peter, I have now attended my first Council meeting (almost two and a half years into my contract). Again like Peter, in recent months I have also had discussion with many Funding Council members either individually or in groups and I feel that a better understanding has been achieved about what the funders what to see from the professional side of the organisation. What is less clear is how our current funders see the future remit and governance of the IWF, but hopefully more clarity around these issues will emerge as we progress our policy reviews.
Looking a little to the future, there is one other personnel issue that I wish to raise with the Board at this time and that concerns the appointment of a Chair for the period 2003-2005.
My contract states:
"The appointment will commence from 1 January 2000 for a fixed term of three years. Under our approved constitution, which comes into effect on the same date, you may stand for re-appointment by the Board for a further term of three years. This will be by a procedure to be decided by the Board and may be a competitive appointment process".
I am mindful of the fact that, in my two and half years as IWF Chair, I have only been appraised once (20 March 2001) and that the selection of a new Chief Executive to replace David Kerr at the end of his fixed-term, five-year contract did not allow any overlap between the departing and arriving Chief Executives. Therefore I would invite the Board to decide now the timetable for consideration of the Chair's position and I would recommend the following process:
[Note: The Board decided the vary these recommendations by extending the end of the current contract from 31 December 2002 to 31 March 2003, in order to enable the July 2002 Board meeting to consider the outcome the appraisal and the November 2002 Board meeting to decide whether to offer a further thee-year contract or to advertise the post.]
As colleagues are well aware, at the Board meeting on 15 November 2001, important policy decisions were made which set off no less than five major reviews. Each review was the subject of a discussion paper and extensive e-mail debate prior to the Board meeting of 12 February 2001.
At the last Board meeting, decisions were made concerning newsgroups known regularly to host child pornography and newsgroups with names judged to support or condone paedophilic activity. These decisions require detailed processes of implementation which are the responsibility of the executive and I know that the new Chief Executive Peter Robbins will keep all Board & Funding Council members fully informed of these processes.
I believe that, as Chair, I have a special responsibility to ensure progress on the other three, inter-locking reviews - concerning objectives, governance and code of practice - and I now wish to advise colleagues on how best I believe we can take forward these reviews and seek your views on this.
On the one hand, I have paused on these matters:
The interval between the last Board meeting and this one has been relatively short (two months), but as always it has been an active time. This report summarizes my main activities as Chair under the headings of:
My job description states in part that I have:
Since the last Board meeting, I have attended the following events:
Since the last Board meeting, I have made the following visits:
My job description states in part that I have:
It was in furtherance of those responsibilities that I put before the Board meeting on 15 November a reform package representing a new approach to newsgroups and a major review of remit & governance. These vitally important issues are still being working through. I have had a responsibility to develop them, while being sensitive to suggestions that I should not be too pro-active as Chair in the development of new policy.
As regards newsgroup policy, former Chief Executive David Kerr and his colleagues did a good deal of detailed work in developing procedures to define newsgroups which regularly host child pornography and to identify newsgroups which appear to advertise or advocate paedophile content or activity. In both areas, the Board meeting of 12 February 2002 determined detailed definitions and procedures and established a small panel - the Chair and two Vice-Chairs - to oversee developments and report to the Board.
Therefore, since our last meeting, I have studied the DataTalk report on "Developing An Efficient Monitoring Strategy" and chaired a meeting of the panel serviced by Brian Wegg. The Board now needs to consider the report of the Newsgroup Panel and how best to ensure that many more ISPs both access our detailed analysis of newsgroups and act on our recommendations.
For historic and presentational reasons, we have had to focus our recent policy debates very substantially on newsgroups, but we need to be mindful that, in our Annual Report for 2001, we pointed out that, of the 101 reports actioned because the material was hosted in the UK:
I would suggest that, as a Board, we need to be giving more of our attention to other areas of the Internet than newsgroups and considering the impact of technological developments such as mobile and broadband.
As regards the various reviews of remit, governance and code of practice, the last Board meeting accepted my proposal that there should be three separate sub-groups, we have agreed that these sub-groups will operate within the parameters of the consultation procedure helpfully prepared by the Funding Council, and both Board & Funding Council members have been invited to declare an interest in serving on one or more sub-groups.
Arising from discussions up to and at my recent appraisal, I have decided not to chair the sub-group on governance and the Chief Executive has invited nominations or suggestions for this role. It is now a collective responsibility of us all, but most especially the sub-groups chairs, to drive forward these reviews as expeditiously as is consistent with full consultation and debate.
Finally, a key part of ensuring that, in any organisation, policy is properly formulated and executed is a robust appraisal process. At the last Board meeting, I proposed that I be appraised and this process was carried out by the two Vice-Chairs at a meeting on 24 June 2002. My understanding is that the Vice-Chairs will be reporting on this process to both the Funding Council and the Board and that their report will include the text of the self-appraisal which I volunteered and drafted. Therefore there is no need for me to add more on this subject in this report.
The next stage is to ensure that the new Chief Executive is appraisal by the Chair and that he and the Chair jointly agree a set of objectives for the following six months that will form the basis of the next appraisal. Peter Robbins will have been in post six months at the end of September 2002. Therefore I propose to agree with him a date and process for an appraisal about that time and to invite all Board & Funding Council members to feed views into this exercise. I suggest that one element of the appraisal be agreement that the Chief Executive drafts a Business Plan and a Corporate Plan for submission to the first Board meeting in 2003.
Our new Chief Executive Peter Robbins has now been in post for seven months. His appointment was subject to a six-month probationary period. Therefore, prior to the expiry of this six-month period, I consulted all Board and Funding Council members electronically and established the unanimous view that Peter's probationary period had been exemplary and that his appointment should be confirmed. Therefore I have written to Peter stating this decision in writing.
As Chair, I am in contact with Peter most days of the week and am therefore more aware than most of the energy and commitment which he has brought to IWF. In his short time with the organisation, he has recruited some new hotline team members - with the team meeting increased demand by achieving new levels of productivity - and he has transformed the subscription base and funding of the Foundation. We have established an excellent working relationship and I place on record my warm appreciation for his performance to date.
I turn now to the Board itself. Since our last meeting, Ceris Bergen of the British Educational Communications and Technology Association (BECTa) has advised me that she wishes to resign from the IWF Board because of changes in responsibilities in her organisation. Following electronic consultation with all Board and Funding Council members, I have decided to replace her with Charlotte Aynsley who works for BECTa as Head of the Promoting Effective Practice Team responsible for DfES/BECTa internet safety in schools strategy which includes developing and maintaining web and print-based content in the form of advice, teaching materials and information.
My consultation process with colleagues was overwhelmingly supportive of such an appointment, the only reservation being about the current governance review. Therefore I propose that we meet this concern by making clear that the term of this Board appointment is subject to the outcome of the governance review.
I continue to represent the IWF in media interviews when this is appropriate. Since my last report, I have fulfilled the following engagements:
Interestingly I have also had an exchange of correspondence with Andrew Lansley MP, a member of the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Bill, who was enormously grateful for detailed advice which we gave to assist a constituent who was receiving pornographic spam.
Like other Board members, a priority of mine in recent months has been to contribute to the IWF reviews resulting from my reform package to the Board at its meeting on 15 November 2001.
I have concentrated particularly on the deliberations of the Governance Working Party. I have attended all four meetings and contributed three papers. I am planning to attend the second meeting of the Remit Working Party. This is will mean that I have managed to attend five of the total of seven meetings convened by the three Working Parties. Meanwhile I have been working with the executive to plan the timing and format of the discussions which we will have on the Working Party reports at the 'retreat' on 6 November 2002.
I should like to thanks all Board and Funding Council members for the contributions which they have made to the review. Overall I am really pleased at the progress which is being made and the nature of the recommendations that are coming out of its work. I think that, once the recommendations are firmed up and implemented, the IWF will be a much more professional, transparent and accountable organisation.
Since I wrote my last report to the Board, I have chaired the 'away day' on 6 November 2002, which we held on the governance review for all Board & Funding Council members and representatives of the Home Office & DTI. I thought that at this event we covered a lot of issues and achieved significant consensus. I am grateful to all members of the three working groups - and especially the chairs and drafters - for their hard work.
Since then, I have commented on further drafts of the consultation documents from the Working Groups on Remit and Governance and attended a meeting of the Working Group on Code of Practice.
It would now appear that, in spite of the best efforts of all concerned, we are unlikely to be in a position to take final decisions on the full range of issues at our Board meeting on 11 February 2003. Therefore I should like the Board to consider the scheduling of a special meeting to consider the final reports of the three working groups.
I would like to suggest that we make the May meeting of the Board an all-day event, with the morning devoted to decisions on the working group reports and the afternoon allocated to the normal business of the Board.
VISITS AND MEETINGS
As usual between Board meetings, I have visited Oakington for discussions with Peter Robbins and, on this occasion, there was the opportunity to meet the newly appointed Internet Content Analysts. Also, together with the two Vice-Chairs, I represented the Board at the Christmas dinner for the IWF staff. I am impressed at the team which Peter has put together and at the high work rates, which they are achieving.
Together with Peter Robbins and Nick Truman, I attended a meeting with Home Office Minister Hilary Benn. Peter was able to report the recruitment of new subscribers and a 64% annual increase in reports. I reported on the work of the three working groups on governance. There seems little prospect of Government funding for any of IWF's work but, other than that, the Minister was totally supportive of the organisation and willing to back publicly our re-launch. We pressed him and his officials to speed up work on the proposed 'one stop shop'.
Together with Peter Robbins, I attended a meeting the new Chair and Vice-Chair of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), Lord Currie and Richard Hooper respectively. There was a very constructive discussion. We explained exactly what we do and what we do not do. For their part, they confirmed that Ofcom has no intention of becoming involved in Internet matters and that they want to work closely with us, especially in the area of media literacy.
Finally I have continued to represent IWF at EURIM meetings on the Communications Bill. Following the last meeting, I circulated a report to all Board & Funding Council members.
While Peter Robbins remains the main media face of the IWF, from time to time other Board members are invited to take interviews. Since the last Board meeting, I have done three live radio interviews, a recorded television interview and a live television chat as well as briefing a number of print journalists. Most of this media activity arose out of the Pete Townshend story. John Carr and Mark Stephens helped considerably with interviews around the Townsend issue and my thanks go to them.
Also I worked with Peter on a chapter concerning the work of IWF for "Protecting Our Children: Policing Paedophiles On The Internet", a book being edited by Dr Allyson MacVean and Detective Inspector David Lowe.
As usual, since the last Board meeting, I have been in frequent contact with Peter as Chief Executive and kept in touch with other staff as appropriate. I have had regular meetings with Peter, I had a useful meeting with Kyra McHoul, and I visited the Oakington office. The team does excellent work and I feel that, as Chair of the Board, I need to communicate to them our appreciation of their contribution.
I have liased with the Executive over their production of the latest Annual Report, the new Corporate Plan, the revised IWF Constitution, and the draft Board Members' Handbook. These are all key building blocks in our increasing professionalisation of the IWF and I am delighted to see the progress which is being made.
I have continued to sit on the Working Group on a Code of Practice and I have chaired a further meeting of the Newsgroups Panel. In both cases, there will be separate reports to the Board.
The IWF is highly regarded both nationally and internationally and I recently joined discussions with the Internet Society of China about how we work
Together with Peter Robbins and Nick Truman, I attended a meeting with the Department of Trade & Industry's E-Commerce Minister Stephen Timms. Peter was able to report the recruitment of new subscribers (especially in the mobile field), Nick emphasized the need for Government to support us, and I reported on the work of the three working groups on governance.
This meeting - together with the earlier meeting with Home Office Minister Hilary Benn, Mr Benn's subsequent letter to us and answers to recent Parliamentary Questions - all make very clear the high reputation we have with Government and the determination of Ministers to support the IWF model.
Other external meetings which I have attended include:
At this meeting, the Board decided to offer me a second three-year contract taking my term of office as IWF Chair through to December 2005.
At it last meeting, the Board decided to offer me a new three-year term of office as Chair and I was happy to accept. I thank colleagues for this opportunity to continue playing a part in the leadership of the IWF as it develops and strengthens.
Following clarification of my own position, since the last meeting, my priority has been to take forward those aspects of the governance review relating to the Board restructuring. In this, I have had had three objectives:
Although I have no responsibility for the industry membership on the Board, I have taken soundings with some industry colleagues and record here the position regarding the future of existing industry Board members, because it effects both the overall balance between retained and new members and the matter of Board consensus over the restructuring.
The situation is as follows:
The position as regards current non-industry members of the Board is as follows:
"The non-industry members will be chosen by an open selection procedure managed by a sub-committee of the Board comprising the Chair, representation from both non-industry and industry Board membership, and an independent person from outside the Board agreed by the other sub-committee members.
In making its choice, the sub-committee will ensure that the Board has an appropriate balance of skills and experience and include members with expertise in child protection, criminal justice, technical matters and assessment of criminally racist material".
In the light of these decisions and this information, I recommend that:
[Note: The proposals were approved by the Board]
OTHER INTERNAL MATTERS
Since the last Board meeting, I have chaired a further (probably last) meeting of the Newsgroup Panel and - in the absence of Mark - a further (again probably the last) meeting of the Code of Practice Working Group. Both of these meetings - and the recommendations arising from them - will be the subject of separate papers and agenda items.
In effect, these meetings represent the last stages in the implementation of the reform package that we agreed at the Board meeting in November 2001. Since then, an enormous amount of work has been done by Board members, Funding Council members and the executive to work out the details of the proposals in a manner which commands confidence and consensus. I am most grateful to all who have contributed to this important process of reform and renewal.
I spoke at a Westminster Media Forum seminar on the regulation of the communications industry [for notes of my comments click here]. Following this event, I was asked to write an article for the inaugural publication of the Westminster eForum and I was invited to a meeting at the Cabinet Office to discuss my views with a representative of the Better Regulation Task Force [click here].
I took part in an Opinion Leader Research breakfast discussion on the future of UK communications on behalf of BT and I attended the BT Summer Reception with the company's Chairman and Chief Executive.
In accordance with the terms of our new Constitution, we have established an Executive Committee of the Board comprising the Chair and the two Vice-Chairs. I recently chaired the first meeting of this Committee. We will now meet quarterly about one month before the scheduled Board meetings. Any decisions or recommendations will be fed to the following Board meeting.
At our last Board meeting, we said farewell to Emma Ascroft, Roland Perry and Nigel Williams. At this Board meeting, we mark the departure of Charlotte Aynsley, John Carr, Claire Milne, Camille de Stempel and Mark Stevens. While we will be having a social occasion to express our thanks to these eight colleagues, in this report to the Board, I wish to place on record my warm appreciation of the service given by all these colleagues to furthering the fight against the availability of child abuse images on the Internet.
At our last Board meeting, Nigel Williams stepped down after serving for six years on our governing bodies. This was the result of his impending departure from Childnet International to become the first Commissioner for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland. Peter and I attended a Childnet reception where his colleagues said farewell to Nigel.
I have liased with Peter and Brian on the procedures for appointing four new non-industry members of the Board in accordance with the new open selection processes set out in our new constitution. This process is being handled by search consultants TMP/Hudson Global Resources. The advertisement was published in the "Guardian" on 1 October and in the "Observer" on 4 October and interviews will be held in the week beginning 24 November.
In accordance with our new constitution, the interviews and selection will be the responsibility of a special panel which I will chair with a representative of the industry members on the Board (Camille de Stempel), a representative of the non-industry members on the Board (Jim Reynolds), and an independent member agreed by the other three (Valerie Howarth). All current members of the Board have been invited to make suggestions as regards the induction process for the new members.
I chaired a panel comprising myself, Peter and PR consultant Karen Patrick to conduct interviews for the new post of General Manager at the IWF's offices. Since no candidate interviewed was found to meet the requirements we were seeking, the post has been re-advertised and the same panel will shortly conduct another series of interviews.
I joined with Peter and all the IWF staff in meeting the local Member of Parliament Andrew Lansley when he made a special visit to the offices in Oakington.
I joined Peter for a discussion with our PR consultants Political Intelligence about the future programme of promotional and lobbying activities. Nick Lansman, head of the consultancy and an ISPA representative on our Funding Council, introduced his new colleague Alun Sturmer who had taken over responsibility for our account from Stephanie Harris who has recently left PI. However, shortly after Alun himself left PI and the person responsible for our account is now Samantha Cole.
Together with Peter, I attended a reception jointly hosted by the John Grieve Centre for Policing & Community Safety and the National Crime Squad which saw the launch of three important initiatives:
I attended a seminar convened by the governing council of the civil libertarian pressure group Liberty [click here], intended to commence a process of reviewing its traditional view that the simple possession of child abuse images should not be illegal. Following presentations by four academics which (oddly) seemed to focus particularly on pseudo images, I set out the reasons for making possession - as well as production and distribution - a criminal offence and described the historic difficulties that IWF has had in working with the civil liberties lobby. I was surprised and encouraged by the openness of council members and offered to continue the dialogue.
In August, the National Criminal Intelligence Service published its annual "UK Threat Assessment" report. This contained a section on sex offences against children which included a reference to IWF statistics on the increase in reports to the hotline. As a result, there was considerable media interest (and confusion). Peter did a number of media interviews and I picked up four radio and television interviews.
In September, news broke of a major German operation against those circulating child abuse images on-line. I gave a telephone interview to a Vancouver radio station.
I contributed a 1,200-word article about the work of the IWF to a publication produced by the Westminster eForum. Furthermore we were invited to be a co-sponsor of the publication without cost which gave Peter the opportunity to contribute a piece on our organisation. The intention of this publication is to set the agenda both for Parliamentarians and civil servants at the commencement of the new Parliamentary year.
The most important responsibility that I have had since the last Board meeting was to manage the process and chair the selection panel for the appointment of four new non-industry members of the IWF Board.
Following our review of governance, it was decided that the Board should be somewhat smaller - instead of the chair and 12 members, the chair and nine members (six non-industry and three industry). As a result of people moving on and stepping down, we had four non-industry vacancies to fill.
Another outcome of the review of governance was agreement that we would follow regulatory best practice by filling any non-industry vacancies through an open and transparent system of appointment. Therefore these four vacancies have been filled through a process involving search consultants called Hudson Global Resources and advertisements in the national press.
Our new constitution states that:
"The non-industry members will be chosen by an open selection procedure managed by a sub-committee of the Board comprising the Chair, representation from both non-industry and industry Board membership, and an independent person from outside the Board agreed by the other sub-committee members".
Therefore the interview panel comprised me as IWF Chair, Jim Reynolds as the non-industry member, Camille de Stempel as the industry member, and Baroness Valerie Howarth (former Chief Executive of ChildLine) as the independent member. We were assisted by Paul Ballard of Hudson.
A total of 65 applications were received; Hudson conducted preliminary interviews with 16 individuals; and the full panel interviewed 11 people over two days.
Our new constitution further states:
"In making its choice, the sub-committee will ensure that the Board has an appropriate balance of skills and experience and include members with expertise in child protection, criminal justice, technical matters and assessment of criminally racist material".
In the event, in spite of special efforts including contact with the Commission for Racial Equality, nobody with an ethnic minority background of a sufficient standard applied for the posts and therefore the panel was not able to select anyone with special expertise on criminally racist material - but this is a very small element of the IWF's work. We were able to select someone with a specialist knowledge of criminal justice. The other three individuals appointed all have a broad involvement in child protection, but they have very different backgrounds and expertise.
The legal person is Ian Walden who is Head of the Institute of Computer and IT Law Unit at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University. The three colleagues with a child protection focus are: Chris Atkinson who is a qualified social worker now holding the post of Policy Adviser at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Tink Palmer who has been a child care consultant and is now Principal Policy & Practice Officer at Barnardo's, and Michele Elliott who is the Founder and Director of Kidscape, a charity with a similar staffing and budget to IWF which is concerned with the personal safety of children. [For further details of the new Board members click here]
These four colleagues now join Jim Reynolds and Sonia Livingstone as non-industry Board members. The Funding Council has agreed that, at least until a further electoral process, the three industry representatives on the Board will be Nick Truman, Howard Lamb and Mark Gracey.
All the new appointees took office on 1 January 2004. All of them have been given an induction programme by the office and had a one-to-one discussion with me. I warmly welcome each of them to the IWF Board.
The final point to make about Board matters is that, following our review of governance, we now have an Executive Committee which meets quarterly in advance of the full Board meeting. The Committee met in January and its deliberations have been fed into the various papers for this Board meeting.
The Committee comprises the Chair and Vice-Chairs and the Board will need to determine who the Vice-Chairs will now be in the context of the new membership of the Board.
OTHER INTERNAL MATTERS
I was pleased to chair the selection panel that interviewed candidates for the new General Manager post and chose Tony Fagelman for the position. I have enjoyed working with him and the new Communications Co-ordinator Faye MacDonald since their appointments. As part of my role as a bridge between the staff and the Board, I attended the staff Christmas dinner and made a routine visit to the Oakington offices.
Since the last Board meeting, I have been involved in a number of media maters, notably:
Finally, since our last Board meeting, the new communications regulator Ofcom has assumed full powers and, together with our Chief Executive, I attended the official launch of Ofcom at its offices at Riverside House. Although Ofcom will not be regulating the Internet, issues like convergence and media literacy will require us to work closely together and we should welcome the opportunity to work with a new partner on these issues.
HARMFUL CONTENT ON THE INTERNET
The IWF's remit is focused very much on illegal content on the Internet, but there has always been significant consumer concern about harmful or offensive content which, in most cases, is not illegal.
My own concerns were brought into sharp focus when I was recently interviewed for ITN in my capacity as IWF Chair. My interviewer was Sue Barnett, the sister of Jane Longhurst who was murdered by Graham Coutts. During the trial of Coutts, the court heard how he had repeatedly accessed web sites depicting violent sex and how elements of his actions mirrored what he had seen on-line.
Subsequent to the trial and its attendant media publicity, two Early Day Motions were tabled in the House of Commons. A briefing meeting arranged by EURIM was attended by the drafters of the two EDMs (Martin Salter & Tim Loughton) and other concerned MPs and interested individuals . I gave a presentation on behalf of the IWF and a copy is available on request. The main points which I raised for discussion are summarized in the Chief Executive's report.
Since the last Board meeting, I have attended an number of conferences and meetings on behalf of IWF, including:
Although Ofcom regulates Internet access, it does not regulate Internet content. However, it recognises the need to work with IWF and wishes to have a collaborative relationship with us. Since our last Board meeting, I have started service as a member of the Ofcom Consumer Panel which should assist the relationship.
An IWF team - which included Peter Robbins, Sonia Livingstone and me - had a meeting with Ofcom officials to discuss how the regulator proposes to exercise its new statutory responsibility to promote media literacy. It is recognised that, with the convergence of delivery platforms for different forms of content and parents' wish to exercise common values across different media, this is an area where IWF should work with the communications regulator. Ofcom will be publishing a consultation document shortly and the Westminster Media Forum is considering a seminar on media literacy.
As usual, I have kept in close contact with Peter through e-mails and meetings and made one of my regular visits to the office at Oakington. Peter is really good at keeping in the picture me as Chair and the Board and Funding Council. This makes for a smooth-running operation.
As usual, I chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee to review matters and prepare for this Board meeting. Additionally, together with Peter, I met Jon Silverman to discuss his facilitation of our 'away day'
The new Board has now been in operation just over six months and this is our third meeting. The Board Members' Handbook states: "All Board members will be regularly offered appraisals. Again these will include identification of any training needs. Appraisals will be conducted by the Chair six months, one year and two years after appointment and at least once during the course of a second term of office."
Therefore, between the July and October Board meetings, I would like to meet each Board member individually, not to conduct a formal appraisal but to have an informal chat about how things are going.
An important part of my role as IWF Chair is to keep in informal contact with the various stakeholders that make up the organisation's community of interests. Since the last Board meeting, I have attended and spoken at a meeting of the children's charities and visited the offices of Childnet International. Also I been to the ISPA Ofcom Liaison Group to talk about media literacy and attended the ISPA summer reception addressed by Kip Meek of Ofcom.
Our relationship with Ofcom as the new communications regulator is important, even though Ofcom has no powers over Internet content. Peter and I had a meeting with Richard Hooper, Chairman of Ofcom's Content Board, and I have had a meeting with Sara Nathan, Deputy Chairman of Ofcom's Content Board, in each case to explain what IWF does and what it does not do and to establish ways of closer working. Sara will be meeting the IWF Board over dinner after our 'away day'.
I have been asked to chair a session of an Ofcom consultation meeting on media literacy later this week.
Most of the contact between IWF and politicians and Ministers is handled by Peter and covered in his report.
However, I was called to give evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media & Sports in respect of their inquiry into BBC Charter renewal. I had expected to be asked about Internet regulation, but not one question was put to me, so the Committee Clerk has now sent me the questions in the MPs' brief and I will respond to them in writing.
Meanwhile, together with Peter (as mentioned in his report), I will be attending a forum at Conservative Central Office on "Making The Internet A Safe Place For Children".
This is my 20th consecutive IWF quarterly Board meeting. 2005 will be my sixth and last year as independent chair of the organisation and, at the appropriate time, the Board will need to consider the succession issue.
As usual, in the course of the last quarter, I have kept in close contact with Peter through e-mails and meetings and made one of my regular visits to the office at Oakington.
As usual, I chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee to review matters and prepare for this Board meeting. For the past two meetings, Hamish MacLeod has stood in for Mark Gracey as the industry representative, as Mark builds up to his normal workload following a period of illness.
Somewhat later than I had originally intended, I have now started the process of meeting each Board meeting for a personal chat on their role and the Board more generally. This will be completed before the January Board meeting.
Meanwhile three Board members - Sonia Livingston, Jim Reynolds and Howard Lamb - are nearing the end of their initial term of appointment (1 January 2001 - 31 December 2004).
The IWF constitution states that: "The decision on whether to offer a non-industry Board member a further term of office will be taken by the Chair and the two Vice-Chairs". Therefore I am now in consultation with the Vice-Chairs on the position of Sonia and Jim and hope to be in a position to report to the forthcoming Board meeting.
Since my last report, I have attended a Conservative Party Forum on the Internet addressed by Michael Howard, an Ofcom media literacy seminar when I chaired the open discussion, the launch of Sonia Livingstone's report on children's use of the Internet, and a conference on mobile & Internet safety addressed by Peter.
Also I had a meeting with Richard Collins, professor of media studies at the Open University.
In the next few days, I expect to attend a conference organised by the Oxford Internet Institute on 'Internet Security, Technology And Governance'.
Following consultation with Board colleagues on a draft, I forwarded a submission to the Select Committee on Culture, Media & Sports addressing issues of Internet regulation in the context of the Committee's inquiry into the BBC Charter renewal process.
In order to keep abreast of broader developments, I have attended an Oxford Internet Institute seminar on "Can The Internet Survive?" and an E-Society/Yahoo! Conference on "Where Is The Internet Going?". Also I attended the IWF-organised Parliamentary "No Frontiers" dinner described in the CEO's report. Finally I was at the LINX event at the Science Museum to mark the 10th anniversary of the organisation.
As usual, in the course of the last quarter, I have kept in close contact with Peter through frequent e-mails and monthly meetings in London. I was at Oakington for the visit to the IWF offices by the Ofcom Chief Executive which is described in the CEO's report. On the Board's behalf, I attended the IWF staff Christmas dinner to underline our appreciation of their efforts over the past year,
In my last report, I noted that three Board members - Sonia Livingston, Jim Reynolds and Howard Lamb -were nearing the end of their initial term of appointment (1 January 2001 - 31 December 2004). Howard has subsequently stepped down from the Board and the Funding Council has elected Nick Truman as his replacement.
As regards the two non-industry Board members, the IWF constitution states that: "The decision on whether to offer a non-industry Board member a further term of office will be taken by the Chair and the two Vice-Chairs". At the last Executive Committee, it was confirmed that Sonia and Jim are to be appointed to serve a further term and Sonia has agreed with non-industry colleagues to continue as the non-industry Vice-chair.
Also in my last report, I explained that I had started the process of meeting each non-industry Board meeting for a personal chat on their role and the Board more generally. I have now managed to meet five of these six colleagues and had an extremely useful exchange. In each case, I explored views on Board administration and Board meetings and discussed the role of the individual and of the organisation generally.
There was general satisfaction with the conduct of the Board and the progress of the IWF. The work of the Chief Executive and the IWF staff generally was strongly praised and appreciated. I have fed back some specific comments and suggestions to relevant IWF staff. The non-industry Board members wish to be used a bit more and are keen that there is a good understanding between the main Board and the Funding Council.
Finally, as usual, I chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee to review matters and prepare for this Board meeting. Also I chaired the special meeting of IWF Ltd to finalise our application for charitable status. The relevant decisions come up on the agenda of the Board meeting.
THE NEXT CHAIR OF THE IWF
My current term of office as independent Chair of the IWF is the second and last as provided in the organisation's constitution. The term will conclude on 31 December 2005.
Clearly the appointment of a new Chair is an important matter that will affect the leadership and image of the organisation. Therefore it will be important for the IWF to be clear about the kind of role to be fulfilled and the kind of person it wants to take on that role.
Following consultation with the Chief Executive and discussion at the Executive Committee, I have drawn up suggestions for a timetable for the selection and appointment of my successor. I seek endorsement of this timetable by the Board.
25 January 2005
Board to establish a joint working party made up of three non-industry Board members (including the non-industry Vice-chair) and three Funding Council members (including the industry Vice-chair) to discuss the role of the new Chair and then prepare a job description and person specification.
Early July 2005
Appointment and briefing of recruitment consultants.
19 July 2005
Board to approve text of job description, person specification and media advertisement and to appoint the two Board members of the selection panel (it is suggested that the industry member of the panel should be its chair).
Mid July 2005
The two Board members of the panel to agree and approach an independent member of the panel.
Early September 2005
Advertisement to be placed in media.
Mid September 2005
Closing date for applications.
Late September 2005
Short-listing of applicants by selection panel.
Mid October 2005
Panel to interview short-listed candidates.
1 November 2005
Board to approve panel recommendation on successful candidate.
Induction process for the new Chair.
1 January 2006
New Chair to take office.
My antepenultimate report.
Since the last Board meeting, I have conducted the last of the one-to-one discussions which I have had with all non-industry Board members on their role as Board members. Also I visited the IWF's Parliamentary corridor event and spoke at the very successful Parliamentary lunchtime reception when we launched our Annual Report and, on behalf of the organisation, I made presentations to LINX, ISPA and Peter Dawe.
Other recent speaking commitments have been a lecture on communications regulation at Harrow College and a presentation on media literacy at an Ofcom/IPPR seminar.
It is part of my role as Chair to act as a link between the Board and the Chief Executive and his staff. As usual this quarter, therefore, I have had monthly meetings with Peter and made my quarterly visit to the IWF offices and I have chaired the quarterly Executive meeting.
Another part of my role is to keep in contact with and be accessible to the stakeholders who have an interest in the IWF's work. In the last quarter, I have attended a BT Parliamentary reception, the Ofcom annual reception, an IWF dinner for mobile interests, the ISPA annual awards ceremony, an ITSPA Parliamentary reception, and a EURIM Parliamentary reception.
A further part of my role is to keep abreast of technological and regulatory developments in the wider communications industry. In the last quarter, I have attended an ISPA Parliamentary meeting on Internet content, an Ofcom consultation meeting on its draft Annual Plan, an OII/IPPR seminar on digital inclusion, a lunch discussion with the BBC Director-General, and an IEE lecture on fibre to the home.
BOARD AWAY DAY
We have agreed to have an 'away day' on 19 July 2005. Following consultation with the Vice-Chairs and the Chief Executive, I should like to propose the following arrangements for this event:
My penultimate report.
As usual in the last quarter, I had my monthly meetings with the Chief Executive and chaired a meeting of the Executive. The most important items of discussion have been our application for charitable status and our selection of a new chair, both of which will be substantive agenda items at our next meeting.
The Funding Council recently elected a new chair, Simon Persoff of Wanadoo, and Peter and I had an early meeting with him to review current issues.
I have been in contact with Richard Hooper, Deputy Chairman of the Ofcom Main Board and Chairman of the Ofcom Content Board, concerning his attendance at our dinner at the end of our forthcoming away day. He has confirmed that he will attend and have an informal discussion with us.
I attended a reception at the London School of Economics to launch the final report in the "UK Children Go Online" project led by Board member Sonia Livingstone.
I made a presentation at a Help The Aged event on older persons' use of the Internet. This event was held as part of Adult Learners' Week.
I was a speaker at a conference on child protection & the Internet held at the Lancashire Police Constabulary Headquarters. This was organised by Terry Jones and chaired by Board member Tink Palmer. One of the other speakers was Dave Meadows of the American Embassy and I shall be having a follow-up discussion with him shortly.
I attended an OECD conference held at the DTI to discuss communications convergence. There were several references in the British presentations to the success of the IWF as a self-regulatory initiative in the Internet space.
I represented the IWF at a meeting in Milan of the European Internet Co-regulation Network. The main issues discussed were draft papers on mobiles & child protection and governance of the Internet.
By the time the Board meets, I expect to have attended the launch of the Institute for Public Policy Research "Manifesto For A Digital Britain". The guest speaker will be the Government E-commerce Minister Alun Michael.
My last report.
I chaired a briefing/discussion at Oakington with a Chinese delegation of seven led by Cai Mingzhao, the Vice Minister of the State Council Information Office. China - which now has around 100 million Internet users and some 670,000 registered web sites - has of course a totally different approach to the control of Internet content, worrying especially about the political criticism (or "rumours" as they put it) on bulletin boards but, when it comes to the removal of child abuse images, their abhorrence and opposition are the same as ours.
I have liaised with Peter Robbins & Brian Wegg and with Chris Atkinson & Hamish MacLeod on the process of selection of our new Chair, assisting with arranging for Ofcom Vice-Chairman Richard Hooper being the independent member of the appointment panel, and I spent an hour with Simon Cummins and Caroline Nickerson of Odgers, Ray & Berndtson discussing the requirements of the post.
Together with Peter, I have had a couple of useful discussions with the new Chair of the Funding Council Simon Persoff. At Simon's invitation, I visited the Funding Council to assure members that our acquisition of charitable status has no impact on our remit and to review my six years as Chair of the main Board. This was only the second time that I have attended a FC meeting.
Strangely I have done no media work for IWF for 18 months and then I found myself in a period of 24 hours doing five television interviews - three recorded and two live - on the Government's proposal to make it illegal to view certain extreme adult pornography.
I made a presentation on behalf of IWF at an Oxford Internet Institute conference on cyber-safety & cyber-security. Other speakers at the event included IWF Board members Ian Walden, Sonia Livingstone, Chris Atkinson & Mark Gracey. I gave a short video-recorded interview to the conference organiser which is now on the conference web site together with similar interviews by Ian and Sonia.
I participated in a three-day international media conference at Balatonalmadi in Hungary. This was organised by the International Children's Safety Service (NGS) and the National Radio and Television Board (ORTT) and the title was "The Effects Of The Media On Children And Young People". I made a presentation on the subject "Combating Child Abuse Images On The Internet: The British Experience". All expenses were met by the organisers.
As colleagues are well aware, like the President of the United States (!), the constitution only permits me two terms of office. So, after a total of six years as the first independent Chair of the IWF, I will step down on 31 December 2005. As I look back over those six years, I recall many things:
It only remains for me to wish the IWF all the best for the future and to say "Roger and out".