Search engines take on child abuse: The 'massive breakthrough' where little has changed

 

Ian Burrell
Tuesday 19 November 2013 10:04
Comments

David Cameron was as anxious as the Daily Mail to herald today's joint announcement by Google and Microsoft as a historic moment.

For the Prime Minister it was "a massive breakthrough in cleaning up the Internet". To the newspaper it was a "stunning victory" for its own campaign to force the big search engines to do more to fight child porn, and indeed all porn.

In reality, the world has not greatly changed. Child protection experts said the only meaningful way to tackle paedophiles is to pursue them on shady peer-to-peer networks. David Cameron, seemingly responding to this, later promised to get the intelligence services and specialist police agencies to do just that.

In doing so he scored another political point. Locked in debate over whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelations of online snooping, the Prime Minister had found an example of positive Internet espionage. No one could argue with that.

Following his Downing Street summit yesterday, Mr Cameron was like a head-teacher emerging from his study. When he raised this issue in the summer, Google and Microsoft told him this "couldn't be and shouldn't be done" but he warned them they must do better. Now they deserved praise for "the way they have responded to the initiative I launched back in July".

There were even supportive comments from Google's Eric Schmidt and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer to back him up.

It seems extraordinary that these vast global companies with market values of $300 billion could still be dictated to by Downing Street. But Google, in particular, is in need of good public relations after being relentlessly pursued by the media over tax. By handing Mr Cameron - and the Mail - an easy win on a subject where they cannot afford to be seen as complacent, the Internet giants will be hoping for an easier ride from press and politicians.

Read more:

Cameron promises to direct intelligence services to investigate 'dark net' of paedophiles

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in