Microsoft introduces Bing pop-up warning for child abuse search terms

The search engine will now warn users when they are in danger of accessing illegal material

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has become the first to introduce pop-up warnings on sites containing images of child abuse.

The Bing Notification Platform will inform the user that the content they are trying to access is illegal and will also provide details of a counselling service.

Users attempting to access indecent images will be presented with a warning, which is triggered by ‘blacklisted’ terms from a list compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre are entered into a search engine.

The move comes after Prime Minister David Cameron stressed that companies should be doing more to ensure such images are not accessible online. Mr Cameron accused firms of not doing enough to block access to images of abuse and met with tech companies such as Google to discuss preventative measures.

His calls for tighter security followed the high profile murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones, whose killers had both accessed indecent images before committing their crimes.

The Bing notifications aim to “stop those who may be drifting towards trying to find illegal child abuse content on the web via search engines”, according to Microsoft.

A spokesman said: "If someone in the UK tries to use search terms on Bing which can only indicate they are looking for illegal child abuse content, they will activate the Bing Notification Platform which will produce an on-screen notification telling them that child abuse content is illegal. 

"The notification will also contain a link to Stopitnow.org who will be able to provide them with counselling.

"We have teams dedicated globally to abuse reporting on our services and the development of new innovations to combat child exploitation more broadly.”

Research by Experian last December showed that Bing had a 4.99 per cent share of the UK search engine market, which is dominated by Google and its 88.3 per cent market share.

A snapshot of the warning message that will be displayed on websites containing illegal material

 

The move places Google under more pressure to take more proactive steps in tackling abusive images. A Google spokesman said: “Child abuse imagery is illegal and we have a zero tolerance policy to it.

“We use purpose built technology and work with child safety organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results.

“We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material.”

Additional reporting by PA

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