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Prime Minister hosts internet safety summit

The Prime Minister has today hosted a summit at Downing Street where he has welcomed the progress made by Internet Service Providers and leading search to better protect children from harmful material online and block child abuse and other illegal content, but has warned that there is still more to do.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Prime Minister has said the internet search engines in particular have made “significant progress” since July to prevent child abuse content from being available across the world but will make clear that he will still bring forward legislation if they fail to deliver.

Google and Microsoft have introduced a number of changes to their search function not only the UK but across the world and National Crime Agency testing of the new measures shows that child abuse images, videos or pathways are no longer being returned against a blacklist of search terms at present.

The changes introduced by the search engines include:

  • The introduction of new algorithms that will block child abuse images, videos and pathways that lead to illegal content, covering 100,000 unique searches on Google worldwide.
  • Stopping auto-complete features from offering people child abuse search terms
  • Google and Microsoft working with the National Crime Agency and the Internet Watch Foundation to bring forward a plan to tackle peer to peer networks featuring child abuse images
  • new technology from Google that will put a unique identification mark on illegal child abuse videos, which will mean all copies are removed from the web once a single copy is identified

More details about the summit are available on the Number 10 Downing Street website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-hosts-internet-safety-summit

Internet Watch Foundation CEO, Susie Hargreaves said: 

“The IWF is a charity with a big mission to eliminate online child sexual abuse content. Only through working with many partners can we achieve this.

With the support and encouragement from the Government, the IWF and our Members have made progress in leaps and bounds this summer which will have a practical and tangible impact.

Over the past few months we have observed an unprecedented amount of truly positive and constructive action from Google, Microsoft and the broader industry. These measures will have a significant impact on our ability to tackle child abuse imagery online.

Everything that Google, Microsoft and wider industry is doing hones in on our core mission of eliminating online child sexual abuse content. It also support and supplements our new way of identifying these images and videos.

From April, our team of analysts will be proactively seeking child sexual abuse content using their accrued experience and intelligence. This is a new and exciting way for us to be more effective at our core mission.

To meet this need, we are more than doubling our analyst team and the recruitment of these staff members is well underway. The IWF is also relocating to larger offices to really future-proof our efforts.

The IWF will also take part in a pilot project with the Home Office, Google, Microsoft and CEOP.  We will be working in partnership to identify pathways to illegal material being shared via torrent feeds and subsequently remove access via the two market leaders in search.

The job is far from done but it is safe to say we will reflect on this year as one of massive change. Both the IWF and our members have embraced this and I’m eager to see what this will do for the fight to remove some of the worst images and videos online.”

 

Responding to today’s news, Childnet International’s CEO Will Gardner said,

“We welcome the progress made and announced today. It is important that this topic remains high on the public agenda and that we all continue to work to combat these images.

Unfortunately, there are still Child Abuse Images available online, and if you do come across them it is important that you report it to the Internet Watch Foundation so that this content is removed. We are delighted that the IWF, our partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, is expanding its staffing and remit in their mission to elimate online child sexual abuse content.”

 

David Wright, Director of UK Safer Internet Centre at the South West Grid for Learning said,

“We welcome today’s commitments made by Microsoft and Google to work toward combating child sexual abuse content on the internet. The Government has clearly made addressing removal of this content a priority going forward and we fully support this and would like to see an even wider-encompassing Government strategy on digital literacy and internet safety for all underpinned by education and awareness raising work such as the work done by the UK Safer Internet Centre, of which South West Grid for Learning is a coordinating partner.”