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The IWF operates in informal partnership with the police, government, public, and Internet service providers.Originally formed to police suspected child pornography online, the IWF's remit was later expanded to cover criminally obscene material.The direct result of the campaign of threats and pressure was the establishment of the Internet Watch Foundation (initially known as the Safety Net Foundation) in September 1996.Facilitated by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), discussions were held between certain ISPs, the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office, and a body called the "Safety Net Foundation" (formed by the Dawe Charitable Trust).After 3 years of operation, the IWF was reviewed for the DTI and the Home Office by consultants KPMG and Denton Hall.Their report was delivered in October 1999 and resulted in a number of changes being made to the role and structure of the organisation, and it was relaunched in early 2000, endorsed by the government and the DTI, which played a "facilitating role in its creation", according to a DTI spokesman.The IWF clarifies on its website that potentially criminal activity is addressed, as content can be confirmed to be criminal only by a court of law.As part of its function, the IWF says that it will "supply partners with an accurate and current URL list to enable blocking of child sexual abuse content".

In September 1996, this agreement was made between the ISPA, LINX, and the Safety Net Foundation, which was subsequently renamed the Internet Watch Foundation.

During 1996 the Metropolitan Police told the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) that the content carried by some of the newsgroups made available by them was illegal, that they considered the ISPs involved to be publishers of that material, and that they were therefore breaking the law.

In August 1996, Chief Inspector Stephen French, of the Metropolitan Police Clubs & Vice Unit, sent an open letter to the ISPA, requesting that they ban access to a list of 132 newsgroups, many of which were deemed to contain pornographic images or explicit text.

It states that its remit is "to minimise the availability of 'potentially criminal' Internet content, specifically images of child sexual abuse (including child pornography) hosted anywhere, and criminally obscene adult content in the UK".

Content inciting racial hatred was removed from the IWF's remit after a police website was set up for the purpose in April 2011.

This list is not exhaustive and we are looking to you to monitor your newsgroups identifying and taking necessary action against those others found to contain such material.

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