Google finally vows to block child pornography - but why announce it through the Daily Mail?

Google chairman Eric Schmidt wrote for the Daily Mail – despite their critical campaign against Google. This tells us a lot about the power of the Mail

Share
Related Topics

Is Google dancing to the tune of the Daily Mail? The paper’s front page today celebrates a “stunning victory” in its campaign to force the internet behemoth to take greater action against child porn.

The Mail has been on Google’s back for months, with one splash story after another along the lines of “What will it take for Google to block child porn?”

Google protested that it had been working “for years” to tackle the problem. Child protection agencies argued that the real issue was not with giant search engines like Google and Microsoft’s Bing but with the secretive peer-to-peer networks used by paedophiles.

Habitual Mail detractors scoffed at what they saw as a misdirected attack by an old media organisation against the internet age. They sneered at the campaign to take on Google and quipped: “Good luck with that!”

And yet, remarkably, the Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has written a bespoke piece for the Daily Mail this morning in which he tells readers “we’ve listened”. Published in the context of the newspaper’s “rag outs” of all its previous anti-Google front pages it reads a little like an apology.

Of course, any measures that deter searches for child porn must be a good thing (even if Google would argue that no images of child abuse would appear in the results anyway).

I visited Google’s UK headquarters this morning and the view there was that this was not a curb on the open culture of the internet. Child sex abuse is a one-off issue, a practice that is universally condemned – and this will not be a precedent for banning other content, such as information that might relate to bomb-making, for example.

Reacting to the news today the respected child protection campaigners such as Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), have questioned the impact of Google’s new restrictions on 100,000 search queries. “I don’t think this will make any difference with regard to protecting children from paedophiles,” he said.

But even if that’s true, this is a huge public relations victory for the Mail, which took Mr Schmidt’s piece and interpreted it as “a stunning U-turn by Google”. The article was a gift to the paper. Inside Google the feeling is that it had to give the Mail the exclusive on the story because the paper has campaigned so hard on the issue. I’m not sure that argument would have been made if it had been a blogger or trade magazine making the running – especially on a matter where Google had been saying it had no case to answer.

This tells us a lot about the power of the Mail, whose website Mail Online has just surpassed 150 million monthly users and is getting increasing traction in the United States (even if it is largely for celebrity content).

Google, the great global media giant of our times, a company with a market value of around $300 billion (£186 billion), has thought better of getting on the wrong side of this Rottweiler of the British press.

There is also a bigger political picture. Google has delivered a victory not just to the Mail but to David Cameron, who has postured theatrically over this issue and suggested he was prepared to somehow get tough with the internet giant.

The Silicon Valley company has been subjected to an avalanche of criticism over the lack of British taxes it pays and, as it prepares to build a giant new London headquarters, it could do with some better PR. Eric Schmidt has thrown the Mail a steak and Google will now hope to move out of the eye line of this Fleet Street attack dog. Good luck with that!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US