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Google, Microsoft join hands to stop child porn

Google and Microsoft unveiled measures to block online searches for child sex abuse images on Monday as part of a bid by British authorities to crack down on Internet paedophiles.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2013 01:12 IST

Google and Microsoft unveiled measures to block online searches for child sex abuse images on Monday as part of a bid by British authorities to crack down on Internet paedophiles.

The tech giants said that as many as 100,000 search terms will now fail to produce results and trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal.

Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper ahead of a British summit on Internet safety, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said his company has fine-tuned Google Search to clean up results for over 100,000 search terms that might be related to the sexual abuse of children. When users type in queries that may be related to child sexual abuse they will find no results that link to illegal content.

The restrictions will initially apply to English-speaking countries but will be expanded to the rest of the world and 158 other languages within six months.

“We will soon roll out these changes in more than 150 languages, so the impact will be truly global,” wrote Schmidt, while acknowledging that no algorithm is perfect and Google cannot prevent paedophiles adding new images to the web.

Similar changes are being brought out on Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the move as “significant progress”.

Campaigners welcomed the move but doubted how much impact the changes would bring. “They don’t go on to Google to search for images,” said Jim Gamble, the former chief of Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center.

“They go on to the dark corners of the Internet on peer-to-peer websites.”

The two companies are also sharing picture detection technology to identify child abuse photographs whenever they appear on their systems, and Google is also testing technology to identify and remove illegal videos.