Denton Hall appointed to review Net porn watchdog

THE Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and the Home Office have jointly appointed City firm Denton Hall and Big Five accountants KPMG to review independently the effectiveness of pornography watchdog the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

Denton Hall and KPMG jointly set up a web site last month that allows the public to express its opinion on the IWF and on the regulation of illegal and obscene material, particularly concerning child pornography.

Visitors to the site (http:// www.kpmgiwf.org) can make their points of view known on an anonymous basis, or give tip-offs to the police on illegal material they have found.

A group of Internet businesses joined together in 1996 to launch the IWF. It is an industry-run organisation that polices the Internet in the UK in the absence of government control.

KPMG and Denton Hall have said they will issue a report of their findings before the end of the year.

A KPMG spokesman said the site had already had a "good" response, mainly from those people with a "vested interest" in Internet regulation. But he said it was "too early" to say if any crimes had been exposed.

Nicholas Higham, the partner in charge of digital media and telecommunications at Denton Hall, said: "Material that is illegal off-line is illegal on-line – fortunately such material is only a small part of what is available on the Internet."

He added that the point of the review was to "find a balanced and pragmatic solution" to Internet policing.

Denton Hall has previously advised the DTI, the Home Office and the European Parliament on Internet law issues.

KPMG director Paul Styles said: "With the explosion in the use of the Internet, the issue of its use for the dissemination of illegal material becomes a growing concern."