Google, Microsoft bow to Government calls on child abuse content

Online search giants Google and Microsoft have bowed to Government pressure to implement changes making it harder for child abuse content to be shared online.

Google

Google and Microsoft have vowed to block as many as 100,000 search terms commonly associated with child sexual abuse, will show warnings at top of search results for a further 13,000 related search terms.

The agreement between the pair comes after mounting pressure from politicians and amounts to a U-turn on earlier claims that such filtering was technically not possible, and it is not the role of private industry to police the web.

News of the cooperation between the pair follows an earlier ultimatum from UK Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron to implement such changes or the Government will impose legislation.

A Daily Mail article by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt published today (18 November) reads: “We’ve listened – and here’s how we’ll end this depravity.”

Schmidt says Google has put 200 people to work on the initiative and that it is also implementing changes to its video-sharing network YouTube to prevent child abuse content being displayed there.

He then goes on to say: “There’s no quick technical fix when it comes to detecting child sexual abuse imagery.

“This is because computers can’t reliably distinguish between innocent pictures of kids at bathtime and genuine abuse. So we always need to have a person review the images.

“Once that is done – and we know the pictures are illegal – each image is given a unique digital fingerprint.

The PM hailed the agreement as “significant progress” from the earlier “couldn’t be done, shouldn’t be done” stances of many web firms, many of whom claim such measures are detrimental to free speech.

However, the Government did add that it will legislate against such companies if it is not satisfied with the initiative’s progress.

Google and Microsoft (which controls the Bing and Yahoo search engines) control over 90 per cent of the UK search market, according to data from Experian.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here