Google and Microsoft have agreed to use their search engines to make it more difficult for child abuse images to be found on the internet.
Following calls from the British Prime Minister David Cameron now both Google and Microsoft have brought in new measures to stop more than 10,000 search terms from returning results that could potentially contain images relating to child abuse.
Now when users enter one of the banned terms either on the Google or Bing search engines a splash screen will appear stating that child abuse imagery is illegal.
David Cameron first called for the search engine giants to help to restrict the ease of finding child abuse images on the internet back in July because more than 95% of all searches in the UK are performed using Google or Bing.
The calls to limit the access of people to child abuse images comes following the convictions of Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger who were found guilty of the murder of children Tia Sharp and April Jones.
Both the convicted killers were found to have used the internet to search for images of children in abusive situations and internet companies are now all being urged to use their technology to help stop child abuse images becoming available to the general public.
While the news that Google and Bing are working to help protect children on line the focus is now turning to what is known as the “dark internet” a place where people are able to share images without them being publicaly available.
David Cameron has said that he would give “specific focus on protecting the victims of child abuse” and would be using the “best brains” to now work to catch anyone who is posting the abusive images online.
Pete Barron from Google told the BBC that since the changes to the search engine have been brought in it has become “much, much more difficult to find this content online.”
He added: “We’re agreed that child sexual imagery is a case apart, it is illegal everywhere in the world, there is a consensus on that. It is absolutely right that we identify this stuff, we remove it and we report it to the authorities.”
Currently the restrictions to the search engines only apply in the UK but there are plans to now extend it across all other English speaking countries and then into more than 150 different languages over the next six months to make it a universal ban.
This was a very rare example of Microsoft and Google working together on a common cause and shows how seriously the companies are taking the issue of child abuse online.
Nicola Hodson from Microsoft told the BBC: “Day-to-day we’re fierce competitors, and we collaborate on this issue because it transcends that.
“It will be much harder to find that content on both Bing and Google. We are blocking content, removing content and helping people to find the right content or also sources of help should they need that.”