David Cameron urges internet firms to block child abuse images


David Cameron: "This is the start of a journey, but there is also the option of introducing stronger laws here in the UK and I don’t rule that out"

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The prime minister has warned internet companies that they need to act to block access to child abuse images or face new legal controls.

David Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show search firms like Google must do more to stop results from "depraved and disgusting" search terms.

Google said when it discovers child abuse images it acts to remove them.

Labour said the PM's plans did not go "far enough" and criticised cuts to online child abuse policing budgets.

Google is one of a number of firms which recently agreed on measures to step up the hunt for abusive images.

In June, after a meeting chaired by the culture secretary, the government said Google and others including Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook would allow the charity the Internet Watch Foundation actively to seek out abusive images, rather than just acting upon reports they received.

'Big argument'

The prime minister said he wanted search companies to go even further and block certain search terms from providing results.

The prime minister has now applied intense political pressure on Google - and other search companies - to do more to block access to child abuse images.

But civil liberties campaigners fear that blocking certain searches in one country could set a precedent elsewhere, making other governments more confident in applying censorship.

In any case, many child protection experts are dubious about the effectiveness of the policy - they say most illegal images are hidden on private forums, in cyber-lockers, and on peer-to-peer networks, and are not available via search engines.

For its part, the government says companies always raise technical objections to this kind of initiative and they need to use their technology to find solutions.

He predicted that the call would prompt a "big argument", but he warned: "If we don't get what we need we'll have to look at legislation."

The interview precedes a speech on Monday, in which Mr Cameron is expected to provide more details of the government's plans.

Anyone searching for a word on a "blacklist" compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) should be made to view a webpage warning them of the consequences, "such as losing their job, their family, even access to their children", Mr Cameron will say.

"There are some searches which are so abhorrent and where there can be no doubt whatsoever about the sick and malevolent intent of the searcher," the PM will add.

He will tell the internet companies: "If there are technical obstacles to acting on this, don't just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them."

Start Quote

Why can't they take this stuff off the internet? Kids are getting killed, abused, raped and messed up for the rest of their lives. What's their excuse? I think it is money.”

End Quote Paul Jones, the father of murdered schoolgirl April

A spokesman from Google said: "We have a zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery. Whenever we discover it, we respond quickly to remove and report it.

"We recently donated $5m (£3.3m) to help combat this problem and are committed to continuing the dialogue with the government on these issues."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Child abuse is a hideous crime and its scale on the internet is deeply worrying.

"David Cameron said he would make sure the police had the resources. But the truth is that Theresa May has cut by 10% the resources for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency," she said.

Despite identifying 50,000 cases of British residents accessing images of child abuse online last year, Ceop had pursued only about 2,000, she added.

'Very secretive'

The debate about online images showing the sexual abuse of children has come to prominence following two high-profile court cases in which offenders were known to have sought child pornography online.

Mark Bridger, sentenced to life in May for the murder of five-year-old April Jones in Machynlleth, Powys, searched for child abuse and rape images.

And police who searched the Croydon home of Stuart Hazell, jailed for life in May for murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp, said they had found "extensive" pornography featuring young girls.

But Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group which campaigns for online freedoms, said: "The idea that banning some search terms will reduce the amount of child pornography online is a bit of a mistake.

Child abuse meeting in Downing Street Mr Cameron recently met the parents of murdered schoolgirls April Jones and Tia Sharp

"While I think David Cameron is very well intentioned, and of course everybody wants this kind of material to be tackled, we have no real evidence that search engines are the major way that people try to find this material.

"Because it's very, very illegal, people tend to be very secretive."

It would be better to boost funds for the policing of the criminal gangs and private networks responsible for the production and distribution of child abuse images, and to crack down on the methods used to pay for them, he said.

A recent Ceop report highlighted how the "hidden internet" helped distributers of child abuse images to evade detection by using encrypted networks and other secure methods.

But John Carr, from the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, said the PM was "absolutely right: there is more that can be done and should be done."

He conceded the plans would not hinder the "tiny, tiny proportion of highly technically literate paedophiles".

"But there's a whole group of others. I mean, we know about two of them, because they were caught and convicted in those murder trials. The judge pointed to the way that they had used the internet to feed their murderous interest and depraved sexual interest in children," he said.

"That kind of thing we can stop."

During a meeting with Mr Cameron at Downing Street, reported in the Sun newspaper, Paul Jones, the father of murdered schoolgirl April, said: "Why can't they take this stuff off the internet? Kids are getting killed, abused, raped and messed up for the rest of their lives.

"What's their excuse? I think it is money. They have the technology and they can do this."

Mr Cameron also said he would like to see more restrictions on access to legal pornography that can be seen online by children.

"There are rules about what films you can see in a cinema, what age you have to be to buy alcohol or cigarettes.

"But on the internet, there aren't those rules, so we need to help parents with control."


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  • Comment number 1217.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1216.

    Good night.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1215.

    I would actually like to see the government try to impose legislation. It would be indeed interesting. What exactly can they do?

    Cameron says "My people! You shall not view stuff on the internet!",
    All the people say "Lol, what a noob!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1214.


    Indeed, then we have the individual computer users ability to run their own FTP/HTTP(S) server, create torrent files to upload onto a public tracker with virtually no-one knowing the file even exists.

    And as personal bandwidth/speed grows individuals can even run their own torrent trackers, web servers etc...

    The can of worms is well and truly opened & the cat is out of the bag.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1213.

    "If we don't get what we need we'll have to look at legislation."

    And there's the crux of the issue. Put in place the framework now based on protecting you from child porn. Once its in place, extend it into other areas that no-one could have envisioned based on dubious legal justification. Time & time again, politicians have shown they can't be trusted & there's no way they can be trusted here.

  • Comment number 1212.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 1211.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1210.

    I despise such a government that will force me out of principle to tell my ISP to let porn through. I do not want it, I would never pay money for it! Fortunately for them no fresh vote lost, they lost me already by their genocidal attitude to planning permitting building on any green field site. Let' hope UKIP rip the heart out of their electoral viability. Nasty totalitarian censors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1209.

    Parents of a child under 16 who allow it to use the internet unsupervised should be charged with failing in their duty of care. but then there are no votes for pointing ou to lasy parents their responsibilities. Time parents stopped pretending everything regarding their children is someone elses fault.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1208.

    @1203 Exactly correct! Also websites using no-follow, no-index in their robot.txt to stop search engines and hiding behind a unix layer password.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1207.

    1183. sheeple

    Let's clear something up.........who on here has ever come across child pornography by accident?

    Years ago it was common for nasty thumbnails to come via email , even to work. Spam filters got rid of that. similar stuff would show on some searches, but now as far as I see, that's not so now. So the current process works for normal net use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1206.

    This is yet another smoke screen to impose yet more control over the internet. It has absolutely nothing to do with child abuse - merely a convenient excuse yet again to implement more controls and surveillance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1205.

    Where there's a will, there's a way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1204.

    I'm deeply worried about the callous unconcerned nature of most of these posts concering the horrific abuse of children.

    It is far more concerning that by standing up for none censorship you wish to "dumb" down the argument to black or white.

    You sound like Bush......You're either with us or with the terrorists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1203.

    The reality is - if you want to find the bad stuff - you go to p2p networks, usenet, silkroad etc... and you use proxies, TOR, OpenVPN etc to obfuscate the data being downloaded.

    These systems will NEVER go away.
    Thus the illegal material will NEVER go away.

    Sad but true.

  • Comment number 1202.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1201.

    I would rather block,
    Party political broadcasts.
    MP's from getting lucrative jobs that they do not have the competence or qualifications for.
    MP's expenses.
    Governments attempt to control the internet.
    Ect ect ect.

    When we take back control from these idiots, I want everything they took from us returned with interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1200.

    Clearly, Mr. Cameron doesn't know much about the internet. There's nothing anyone can do to censor it. It just doesn't work like that. You'll be surprised, but you'd actually have a better chance living in a decent world free of corruption by first eradicating the cartel who run the banks and sodomise the economy, from the Bank of England to the Federal Reserve. Porn is all in the money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1199.

    The reality is that the internet was built to survive world war three, it is still a work in progress, there are many issues with it, with the exception of one or two other things, getting rid of child pornography and abuse images and video is a priority after all as a race with out our kids were nothing, but banning internet search terms will not alone do this as you can still send / receive data

  • rate this

    Comment number 1198.

    Blocking google searches would actually have no benefit. Google is what is known as a surface search tool in that is scrapes the surface of the internet. Yes, It may seem to find a lot, but its probably a significantly low percentage of the internet which it trawls. This kind of content I would expect resides in the deepnet, usenet or dynamic.


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