Monica Foster commentary: This is a good thing, and will provide a lot of transparency in regards to pornographers in the United States who are secretly involved in the production and distribution of child pornography (along with other criminal activity). This situation makes me wonder how much truth there is to the long running claims of agents such as Mark Spiegler and pornographers such as Steve Hirsch having a “propensity for pedophilia”.
At last, PM cracks down on net porn: Cameron will order Google and internet rivals to rid the web of child pornography
- Prime Ministers says internet firms should ‘stop making excuses’
- Measures would prevent murders like those of Tia Sharp and April Jones
- Search engines will be told to hunt down child pornography
David Cameron is to order Google to ban child pornography from the internet in a bid to prevent further murders like those of Tia Sharp and April Jones.
The Prime Minister last night said it was time for internet firms to ‘stop making excuses’ for failing to crackdown on ‘disgusting’ pornography. Google was urged to use the same effort it put into filming virtually every house and street for Google Earth to help rid the internet of violent and obscene sexual images.
Until now firms have refused to act, claiming it is not their responsibility.
But the Prime Minister’s patience snapped after the disclosure that the killers of Tia Sharp and April Jones both viewed violent child pornography on the internet. He believes that it has swung the public behind his demand for tougher action.
Google, which has attracted further controversy over the way it shelters its multi-billion profits from UK taxation, and other internet-service firms have been summoned to a showdown with Culture Secretary Maria Miller and Tory MP Claire Perry, Mr Cameron’s adviser on preventing the sexualisation of children. The meeting will take place on June 17.
The Prime Minister told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘I am sickened by the proliferation of child pornography. It pollutes the internet, twists minds and is quite simply a danger to children.
No more excuses: Internet firms will be told to crackdown on vile porn
‘Internet companies and search engines make their living by trawling and categorising the web. So I call on them to use their extraordinary technical abilities to do more to root out these disgusting images.
‘That is why the Government I lead is convening a round-table meeting of the major internet companies, and demanding that more is done.
‘There are encouraging signs that the industry is willing to step up – increasing funding and technical support for organisations combating child sexual abuse imagery online. But I want more action.
‘The time for excuses and blame is over – we must all work together. The safety of our children is at stake – and nothing matters more than that.’
Google and other internet companies will be told to set up teams of investigators whose sole job will be to trawl the internet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in search of child pornography and other illegal obscene images – and remove it.
Google has always resisted calls to be pro-active. At present, it is only obliged to act when it receives specific complaints.
Critics say this covers only a tiny fraction of internet pornography and is totally ineffective. ‘Law-abiding people do not go looking for child pornography and those who stumble on disgusting images are often reluctant to report it for fear that their motives will be questioned,’ said one official.
‘Google Earth has showed that firms can do amazing things on the internet when they want to. Now they must do the same to get rid of pornography that is blamed for appalling crime and depravity.
‘They cannot just put their hands up and say, “It’s not our fault.” They make vast amounts of money so they cannot claim they cannot afford to. It is time for them to show some genuine social responsibility.’
A court heard how April’s killer, Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life for her murder, had a sickening library of violent child pornography.
Bridger blamed an internet search for ‘naked five-year-old girls’ on a ‘mis-type’. But the judge called him a ‘paedophile’ with ‘sexual and morbid fantasies about girls’.
Tia’s killer, Stuart Hazell, was obsessed by paedophile websites and used his mobile phone to trawl the web for child porn before he murdered the girl.
Police found searches including the terms ‘naked little girlies’, ‘illegal under-age incest pics’ and ‘schoolgirl abuse’ in his Google browser. He regularly downloaded child abuse images on his phone and even visited a child-abuse website as Tia’s body lay hidden in the loft of the home he shared with her grandmother.
And there were Google searches for ‘violent forced rape’, ‘little girls in glasses’, ‘daddy daughter pictures’ and ‘under-age incest galleries’ on his computer. Experts said Hazell’s use of violent and paedophile pornography on the internet was a factor in his transformation from petty criminal to child killer.
Child-safety campaigners called on firms such as Google and Microsoft to crack down on how paedophiles use the internet to feed their sexual perversion with simple online searches.
Government insiders deny the new moves are an attack on Google. A source said: ‘This is not targeted at Google. We believe they are moving in the right direction and will agree to our plans. This is about getting tough on pornography, not getting tough on Google.’
I WON’T FORCE SCHOOLS TO REPORT SEX ABUSE CLAIMS, GOVE TELLS MP
Porn row: RE teacher Geoffrey Bettley was allowed to resume his career after downloading child porn
Michael Gove is resisting pressure to compel schools to report all child sex abuse allegations to the authorities, a leaked letter shows.
The Education Secretary has told a senior MP, in a letter obtained by investigative website Exaro, that he opposes the introduction of mandatory reporting by schools because he fears officials responsible for child protection would be ‘swamped’.
Mr Gove is under mounting pressure from campaigners to require schools to refer every claim. It comes after some pupils suffered years of sexual assaults because staff failed to pass on concerns.
His refusal to toughen up the rules will infuriate those who believe children are put at risk if senior staff are allowed discretion over whether they report claims.
Mr Gove told former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan that mandatory reporting, which has been introduced in countries including the US, Canada and Northern Ireland, would not be implemented here.
The disclosure of Mr Gove’s letter follows a row last week over a decision by the Department for Education to allow RE teacher Geoffrey Bettley, who downloaded child porn, to resume his career.
Finally we can make real progress against the evil of child porn, writes Tory MP Claire Perry
THIS could be the week we make real progress in defeating the evil of child pornography. In the past month we have been reminded once again of the dark underbelly of the worldwide web. Sexual images depicting children have been found on the computers of two British men convicted of the abuse and murder of two innocent girls.
We can’t say if access to these images contributed to or caused the crimes – but the fact that they were accessible, and correlated with such sickening behaviour, causes me great concern.
To be clear: the taking, making, distribution or possession of any sexual image depicting a child under 18 is illegal – no ifs, no buts. Why, then, if this content is illegal, can it be found, online, in the UK? After all, Britain led the world in attacking the problem of online child-abuse imagery with the creation of the not-for–profit Internet Search Foundation (IWF) in 1996.
The IWF acts to identify websites showing this appalling material and issues to internet companies a blacklist of websites for blocking in the UK. But as websites containing this material proliferate like weeds in spring, many images slip through.
At the moment, the protection system relies heavily on ordinary web users – you and me – taking the time to report an image, and to assuming that we would want to acknowledge to anyone that we had found such disgusting and disturbing material.
More than 40,000 people took the time to do so last year. Of course, none of those reports are likely to come from people like Stuart Hazell or Mark Bridger, who are actively looking for these terrible images. And almost no reports come from internet service providers or search engine companies, although they acted with commendable alacrity in blocking images when the IWF reported it to them.
Surely, the blocking would be much more effective if internet companies, whose business models are based on trawling websites across the world, did more to report sites containing illegal child abuse images to the IWF, and funded it better? I am also concerned that when someone searches for child abuse images that have already been blocked, all they receive is a generic ‘error’ message.
We put up warning labels if people attempt to download pirated material on the internet, and we even put health warnings on cigarette packages, so why not alert people searching for child porn that it is illegal, that every child depicted in these images is a victim, and that the consequences of being found in possession of material could be severe?
And why not go further, and use this information – known in the industry as a ‘splash page’ – to provide signposts to where someone struggling with an addiction to child porn could go to get help? Since I got involved in campaigning in this area, there have been calls for the Government to regulate. But, as the situation with illegal child porn images online demonstrates, the global nature of the internet means that even if the British Government outlaws something, it’s possible for a determined citizen to find it online.
The only way to stay in front of the technical challenges is to make sure that the internet industry – which is constantly inventing and innovating – steps up to its responsibilities too. There are encouraging signs they will do more so.
There are signs Google is preparing to use its vast wealth and immense technological skills to do more to root out these sickening images from the web. Since I became an MP in 2010, I have campaigned for a more family-friendly internet, working with a group of determined politicians, engaged internet companies, committed charities, and concerned parents. David Cameron has given us huge support.
We have achieved a lot. This year will see the introduction of content filters that will protect all devices in the home with one click, and the provision of much more education and information for parents and children about internet safety.
These are welcome steps. They will help make Britain one of the most family-friendly places in the world to go online – and make the internet a far safer place.