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Google to warn users of 13,000 search terms associated with child pornography

Loek Essers | Nov. 19, 2013
Online rights campaigners feel that the move is not enough to protect children as it is more about preventing damage to the company's reputation

However, doubts were raised about effectiveness of the measures taken by the search engines on request of the government. The CEOP, for instance, concluded in a July 2012 study that many U.K. sexual offenders use the Web anonymously.

The director of the U.K.'s Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, pointed out in a blog post that many child protection experts are questioning the measure's usefulness. "We don't know, as we've seen no evidence, whether Google and Microsoft really will be able to make a difference by limiting search, or whether the actions are cosmetic," he said, adding that Google and Microsoft have always removed search results such as URLs or images that are reported to them.

Monday's announcement only proves Internet companies are susceptible to pressure and will take action when threatened, Killock wrote. "It doesn't matter if the companies are at fault, or can only make a limited difference, but when accused of aiding paedophilia, they are certain to take action to limit the reputational damage," he said.

"If David Cameron and his advisor Claire Perry are hyping a policy they know is of marginal importance, many people will be forced to conclude that the announcement is a cynical manipulation of parents' fears in order to appear to be taking action," he said.

The efforts are probably not going to be very effective, agreed Joe McNamee, director of civil rights group European Digital Rights, in an email. "The companies are taking arbitrary but press-friendly measures as a way of seeking refuge from bad publicity," he said.

 

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