Categorizing Prevent Duty With Care

At Netsweeper, we categorize millions of URLs daily, including categorizing for Prevent Duty compliance. These URLs are placed into different categories based on the content on each page. These categories are accessed worldwide by millions of users who’s activity continuously contribute to the categorization database as their system processes newly discovered websites. Our customers use these categories to ensure illicit, indecent and illegitimate content does not reach their users. Our Categorization Name Service is used as a tool to help protect end users from engaging in online behaviour that could be a risk to themselves and others.

With the risk of online radicalization, where terrorist organizations have been known to radicalize young people through social media and the internet, schools have a “duty” to protect pupils that are in their trusted care.

Netsweeper and Prevent Duty  Compliance

In 2015 the UK government required all schools to implement e-safety strategies to help protect vulnerable school children from exposure to inappropriate online content. The expectation placed upon schools and childcare settings is that they will work closely with a multi-agency support network (including contacts such as the Police and the Local Safeguarding Children Board) to raise awareness of issues of extremism and to support individuals who are vulnerable of being drawn into terrorism.


According to the Child Protection Company, in the UK, terrorists and extremists lie in wait for an opportunity to convert other people on their beliefs, and they often target children and young people. The internet is increasingly being utilized as a tool to promote extremist and terrorist views to the general population, and these views can be broadcast in the form of videos, messages, audio recordings, and direct contact with individuals on social platforms. All of this is propaganda and manipulation, and it is a sad reality that many people have been influenced by this propaganda every year. With every converted belief, comes a potential threat.

Why do Schools Need a Filter in Place to Comply?

Without a sophisticated web filter, the risk of teachers and administrators missing some of the potentially concerning student behaviours is too high to ignore. The duty states: “Schools have an important role to play in equipping children and young people to stay safe online, both in school and outside…schools must have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”

How Netsweeper Helps:

As a part of our categorization platform, we have over 90 categories that from sports to extremism in over 45 languages. Within these categories are 4 categories that make up our Prevent Duty Categorization Platform to ensure Prevent Duty compliance. These are outlined below:

1. Weapons

This category includes sites that provide information related to the promotion, support, sale or discussion of weapons. It also includes any related device used in combat that can injure or kill, such as guns, knives, or swords. On average we categorize over 1000 pages per day that contain weapon related content.

2. Criminal Skills

This includes sites with instructions or methods that promote, encourage, or provide skills considered to be illegal, criminal, violent or harmful to the public, and are forbidden by law. This can include questionable material and sites that promote nonviolent, unethical or dishonest behavior such as academic cheating, or software hacking/key breaking. This does not necessarily reflect the laws of any region or country. Our Categorization Name Service finds hundreds of pages each day that are considered criminal skills related.


3. Extreme

This category includes sites that are considered far from normal and are categorized for their degree of intensity. The content features or promotes intentional, direct, and deliberate violence and destruction or the alteration of the human body and other living creatures. These sites may depict or promote torture, self-inflicted harm, mutilation or other dangerous activities. Images and information that advocate and glorify eating disorders, suicide, death, gore, injuries or sites that feature grotesque or frightening descriptions are also included. Our Live Stats page tracks how many pages are categorized for each category including Extreme content.

4. Hate Speech

These sites portray views that are written, verbal, or illustrated and are intentionally offensive to the public. The intent of these sites is to degrade, intimidate or incite violent or prejudicial actions against individuals based on race, ethnic affiliation, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or profession. Advocacy or instructional sites that promote the harming of individuals or groups and encourage or promote peer abuse, videos of physical assaults, written harassment and threats are also included. Languages content, which can be filtered in multiple languages, is applied based on categories and language which decrease the risk of content slipping past protocol.

We work with the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) to help find and block new content being published daily. To learn more about maintaining Prevent Duty compliance and how Netsweeper can help, download our white paper below or contact our sales team today.