Who says nothing can be done about online pornography? Google is not only applying technological solutions to blocking access to child porn, it is using the power of shame.
Other search engines are following Google’s lead. The impetus is the crackdown on pornography by the United Kingdom that we blogged about earlier. But Google is applying the British standards everywhere.
Google will display warnings above the search results for 13,000 terms it believes are associated with more explicit child sexual abuse terms, it announced Monday. Microsoft said it will take similar action on its Bing search engine, and on Yahoo searches powered by Bing.
The two companies are acting at the request of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, although a Google spokesman said the changes will affect searches worldwide, not just in the U.K.
The moves were criticized by online rights campaigners, who said the measures were more about preventing damage to the companies’ reputations, and would not be very effective in protecting children.
In July, Cameron called on Google and Microsoft, which together cover 95 percent of the search market in the U.K., to block results for certain searches to make sure that no illegal content or pathways to illegal content were returned.
The U.K.’s Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) provided the search engines with a list of terms it said were unambiguously used by those looking for child abuse images online, Cameron’s office said in a news release.
When people search Google with a term linked to child abuse, clear warning messages from Google and child safety organizations are displayed explaining the consequences of their actions and pointing them toward expert help, the company said.
Google also introduced changes to prevent content such as images and peer-to-peer links to child abuse material from appearing for more than 100,000 unique searches associated with child sexual abuse terms, it said. It also developed and agreed to share a new technology that allows copies of videos of child abuse to be identified and removed, it said