Internet chiefs will today be accused by the Government of turning a blind eye to the number of child abuse images that can be accessed online.
Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, will call for major companies including Google, Yahoo and BT to draw up plans for action for curbing illegal sites and stopping youngsters being exposed to hard core pornography.
Ms Miller will deliver the ultimatum at a Whitehall summit at which she will set an autumn deadline for the firms to report back. She told them last night: “The pressure will be unrelenting.”
The Government believes the recent announcement of the summit has spurred the industry into action after refusing for years to respond to public concern over the issue.
It pointed to a promise by Google last week to invest £4m in detecting illegal sites and a commitment by major internet service providers to introduce “splash pages” to warn computer users that might be about to call up explicit material.
The companies attending today’s summit are Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Vodafone, O2, EE and Three.
Ms Miller said: “Child abuse images are horrific and widespread public concern has made it clear the industry must take action.
“Enough is enough. In recent days we have seen these companies rush to do more because of the pressure of an impending summit. Imagine how much more can be done if they seriously turn their minds to tackling the issue.”
The moves follow last month’s revelation that Mark Bridger, who murdered the schoolgirl April Jones, had an extensive of collection of child porn, including 65 criminal-standard abuse images.