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back to article Google, Microsoft to drop child sex abuse from basic web search

Google and Microsoft have bent to political pressure in the UK – by agreeing to tweak their search engines to not only make it a little harder for sickos to find child abuse images online, but to also prevent regulatory intervention. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that "significant progress" had been made since the summer …

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Title is too long

"If the search engines are unable to deliver on their commitment to prevent child abuse material being returned from search terms used by paedophiles, I will bring forward legislation that will ensure it happens."

What a moron. Just because he passes a law doesn't mean that the impossible is magically made possible. The technical challenge is worthy but immense and I doubt short of proper A.I. could ever be fully automated.

On a seperate but related note, If the article is accurately reflecting the PM's views, he seems to confuse search engines not returning the nasty results with the nasty content being removed from the web. Getting search engines to not return the results is only a part of a large battle and that seems to be ignored.

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Re: Title is too long

Do you really believe it is hard for the search engines to track what is being used to search for these images/content? They don't even need to work out what the terms are. I am sure all the child protection agencies around the world can give them plenty of examples.

If you do, can you please explain how they can track you for advertising without needing this A.I.?

They may not get everything, but if the paedophiles swap to saying cucumber instead of <INSERT APPROPRIATE SICK TERM HERE> then they are not going to be finding the content they want very quickly.

Yes it only gets the easy fish as who really would put this on the public internet. But it helps.

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Re: Title is too long

Keywords can trigger ads but people aren't trying to obfuscate the meaning of the content of an email or search when they're emailing customer support for product support or their friends to organise a night out. An ever evolving slang would be very difficult for an automated system to keep up with and we haven't even touched on stenography.

A.I. because context is king. Remember the album cover of a baby swimming in a pool that got flagged? Even people make mistakes and computers are generally as dumb as bricks. They need to be guided by the hand unless you're going to allow fuzzy logic to open you to legal action when you block legal material.

Addresses for these sites could be made available in dark net chat rooms without having to go through search engines. It's only going to make things difficult for the most technologically ilteriate.

Every little helps but for the amount of resources being put into the problem, this is pathetically little return.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Muphry's law in action

"ilteriate"

LOLOLOLOLOL

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Re: Muphry's law in action

I know, same way I spell spelling spieling.

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Re: Title is too long

Yeah agreed, and I bet it wouldn't be too hard to automate altering videos invisibly so they give different hashes each time they're copied.

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Re: Title is too long

Addresses for these sites could be made available in dark net chat rooms without having to go through search engines. It's only going to make things difficult for the most technologically ilteriate.

Why make the addresses available in dark net chat rooms? Why not put the address on the dark net? Seems silly to put a site where everyone can see it and then advertise elsewhere. If your advertising elsewhere, display elsewhere to help avoid detection.

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Re: Title is too long

Encryption would prang the hidden watermark. And, as someone has said, evolving code would bypass filters: eg. cool David Cameron.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Title is too long

Paedophilia will never be defeated until it is treated as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue.

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JLV
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Re: Title is too long

>Paedophilia will never be defeated until it is treated as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue.

Respectfully partially disagree, depending on the specifics.

Your statement is usually applied to drug consumption, and I agree with it. But drug use does not automatically victimize others, barring usually minor property crimes, which can be addressed on their own "merits" by the criminal system.

Real-life pedophilia by definition involves a child as a victim and the crime is extremely serious in nature. It deserves the full force of the law.

If you were referring to someone who only looks at images or videos, then, yes, we should first aim to cure or curb their mental dysfunction. Recidivists, providers, chat room pervs and all sorts of other considerations would warrant prison sentences however. And even a viewer should be limited in the interactions they can have with children.

i.e. The fact that the perpetrator victimized, or intended to victimize, someone directly should escalate the issue from mental health to criminal justice.

Someone should be able to walk into a police station, show a bunch of kiddy porn on their laptop, and ask for help. If that's all they did, they should not go to jail and we in fact should find ways to encourage that with partial amnesties.

As far as the Google/Bing changes go - all for it, if done correctly. It might keep someone with a compulsion to look for this material clean if they can't get easy access. And it will make life slightly harder for the active sickos. Not least, having to use unusual channels to search should require more organization between pervs, making it easier to roll up a bunch of them when there is an investigation.

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Gimp

And so it begins

I hear Call-Me-Dave is keen to get GCHQ involved in this.

Any excuse, eh?

this has f**ger all to do with protecting the children.

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Anonymous Coward

A view from the other side

>>Paedophilia will never be defeated until it is treated as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue.

>Respectfully partially disagree, depending on the specifics.

>...

I think the OP was specifically talking about viewing only. The so-called "victimless" side.

It is NOT victimless, but the victims are not (just) the children in the pictures.

Anon, because I personally have been affected by this.

I started looking at "illegal" pictures online when I was 13. I was otherwise a completely normal (though quiet/geeky) child, in a completely normal family. I was in a boys school, and it didn't seem wrong to be looking at girls my own age. I never told anyone about it - I was terrified of what they might say.

Later on, I was hit by the "system".

At 19, I was still looking at these images, and was suicidally depressed about the situation. It almost killed my degree. But I got rid of them, got over it, put it behind me, finished my degree and got a job.

Some years later though, the police called round, about some log files containing my IP address from a long time ago. I told them about my past issues, and that the files were long gone. They were less than sympathetic and I was on bail for two years while they inspected my computers.

Eventually I was told that traces of the files remained (though provably old), on an unencrypted portion of the disk, and that I was to be charged. The terrifyingly clueless judge threw the book at me (despite the prosecution correcting him that the charge of "making" images actually refers to downloading them, not taking them). I lost my job, spent some traumatic time in jail, and was driven back to suicidal depression. I was put on the sex offender's register for 10 years, and banned indefinitely from using "any computer or device capable of accessing the internet" (including phones, TVs, fridges..) This ban was obviously over the top, but took nearly a year to overturn. I am only just getting my life back on track.

This knee-jerk reaction to censor search terms worries me. It would certainly not have stopped me at 13: I would have been even more excited at the prospect of defeating a censorship filter.

There have been more and more hysterical "crackdown" efforts against these images online, yet it is becoming more and more prevalent for young children to be on the "abuser" end of things.

I don't think censorship and surveillance can ever solve this problem (Instead they risk causing even more troubled children to fall into the "system" trap and ruining their lives). What is needed, like the OP said, is to treat porn addiction in the same way as we now treat drug addiction, especially where it involves or leads to underage & abusive images.

I suspect it would be just as traumatic for a parent to have their child labeled a paedophile, as it would to find out they had been abused.

(Please note that I have never, EVER, paid for, asked for, distributed, or otherwise encouraged the proliferation of child abuse images. I recognise that this does not make what I did right or acceptable, but a balance has to be struck. Absolutism and witch-hunts are even worse for society than the evils they seek to abolish)

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Re: A view from the other side

Censorship is never the right answer to anything.

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@James 51 Re: Title is too long

>Remember the album cover of a baby swimming in a pool that got flagged?

What you think you're talking about: Nirvana - Nevermind (never heard of this actually being "flagged" in any mainstream context).

What you probably are talking about: Scorpions - Virgin Killer (tweenage girl in pornesque pose, which got Wikipedia blocked by the IWF a couple of years back).

If my supposition holds water, you're conflating waaay unrelated shit just as badly as they do. Apologies if not.

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Re: Title is too long

I'm not sure I agree with the 'making it harder to get hold of might make them clean' argument. Although I can't approve of child porn images, simply because there WAS an abuse occurring when the pictures were taken, I'm not sure that restricting access would actually help. There will always be a market for this shit, so the images and videos will never stop, even if their customer base is limited to the very rich, but on evidence relating to 'normal' porn, it would appear that the availability of porn leads to a reduction in sexual offences and the restriction leads to a rise. http://www.yapaka.be/sites/yapaka.be/files/actualite/pornography-rape-and-the-internet.pdf is an interesting study on correlation (I know, correlation doth not a causation imply!) between the availability of porn and the incidence of (in the study's case) rape.

The implication is that, starved of fantasy targets for their compulsion, paedophiles will incline towards acting out their desires in real life with real children.

And while I'm boring everyone: When we learn of a child who has been abused, our sympathies go out to him/her. The child is a victim, whose trust has been viciously assaulted. The child deserves all the compassion we can give them, all the help and therapy available (the help and therapy bit very often doesn't happen due to budget restrictions, of course).

The majority (I used to have the figure, but the brain cell that held them appears to have died) of adult child abusers were themselves abused as children, so there is a clear cause > effect correlation here. And yet, for the abusers themselves, we have no compassion. They are animals, worse than animals. The only right course is to cut their balls off and bang em up for the rest of their natural. The compassion we had for them as abused children has evaporated to be replaced by raw hatred.

I wish I had a solution, but TBH, I have a tendency to feel the same way about the abusers when these cases come to light, but it seems to me that we, as a society, or culture, whatever, are failing these children if we are not rescuing them from the cycle of abuse.

Yes, I know not every abused child becomes an abusing adult, but a higher proportion do. Certainly higher than the proportion of kids who ride bicycles who later join murderous bikie gangs.

Just my coupla pennorth. Please feel free to ignore/downvote - it's been a long day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @James 51 Title is too long

In 2011 it was flagged by Facebook and removed. It was later reinstated, but the fact is, James 51 was correct in that it was flagged in a mainstream context.

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Gimp

Re: A view from the other side

"It is NOT victimless, but the victims are not (just) the children in the pictures.

Anon, because I personally have been affected by this."

What makes you think this has anything to do with "protecting children?"

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Next week:

Next week:

If the researchers are unable to deliver on their commitment to cure cancer, I will bring forward legislation that will ensure it happens

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Anonymous Coward

"dark corners of the internet"

can we not just put up some more street lighting?

or visible policing, yes more PCSO's will help fight this evil scurge on our..."wait..what do you mean online?"

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...

I am staggered, not that trying to clean up the internet from illegal material is a bad thing, but who the hell is going to Google or Microsoft to search for it?

Surely if this was the case it wouldn't be hard for either of those two companies to identify that this is happening and forward that information on to the relevant authorities.

This is propaganda for mumsnet, this does nothing to stop the wider issue of stopping child abuse issues on the internet.

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Re: ...

No it does not stop the wider problem. But that has always been there and the authorities job to search it out.

What it does help with is the casual find of this material. That let's be honest, if it's on the public internet is going to be a lot easier to tackle than the "dark" internet.

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Re: ...

Why don't they just disconnect the data cables to the dark internet?

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Re: ...

Apparently the guy that killed the 5 yo in Wales was searching for "naked kids" and shit.

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Joke

"Why don't they just disconnect the data cables to the dark internet?"

"It's wireless!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...

"Apparently the guy that killed the 5 yo in Wales was searching for "naked kids" and shit."

Maybe he was looking for pictures of little goats with their wool shorn off?

The English language has enough ambiguity and regional slang/phrasing that coming up with a valid list of what terms should be excluded is going to be a nightmare.

And what about the good old cockney rhyming slang? Imagine the trouble you could get into for saying you're popping down the road for a tasty little Ruby Murray!

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Re: ...

And yet, here we are, trying to limit how they do their job and then complaining how ineffective they are at doing it

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Re: ...

"Apparently the guy that killed the 5 yo in Wales was searching for "naked kids" and shit"

A likely very unpopular interpretation follows:

Maybe he was unable to find what he wanted/needed to whack off to and therefore went out in the real world to make his own. Maybe, if he'd found the images, he would have settled for Mrs Palm and her five delightful daughters and that 5 year old would be alive now.

I don't know, maybe. But do you know, for certain, that jerking off in front of some images WOULN'T have changed the outcome?

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FAIL

Politicians seem to struggle

with the difference between the contents of a location, and the contents of a location pointed to by another location. Somehow I can't see them developing as C programmers any day soon.

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Joke

Re: Politicians seem to struggle

As a C programmer, I am black affronted! I also have terrible trouble with that bit myself, you insensitive clod!

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Mixed feelings on this. The disgusting things that are being blocked in this example is obviously good, but cant help but feel this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deciding what people see and don’t see online.

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Unhappy

@Bill the Sys Admin

"Mixed feelings on this. The disgusting things that are being blocked in this example is obviously good, but cant help but feel this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deciding what people see and don’t see online."

That's why the TOTC routine works so well.

Whenever someone talks about "Saving the children" you better ask "For whom?"

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Lack of good

parenting leads to a nanny state, fools

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Coat

Its just another form of racism.

IGMC

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Coat

Re: Its just another form of racism.

Why can I no longer think of the British Isles without the word "padeoph" in front of it?

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Big Brother

We all know where this is going

OMG think of the children !

Meanwhile the real agenda of those behind closed doors is censorship and sucking up to the content Mafia.

Claire Perry - Your ideas may be very noble but you are being used.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We all know where this is going

Completely agree with the true agenda behind all of this. However the latter statement is naive. She knows what she is doing like any corrupt politician. Though the corrupt part is statistically quite redundant in the phrase 'corrupt politician' .

They all know how to play gullible public heart strings for their backers nefarious needs. Think of of the children indeed. That's why the far greater problem of starving children around the globe gets far less government attention , it's perhaps a far less advantageous cause.

"The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness...This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs when he first appears he is a protector." - Plato

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Unhappy

Re: We all know where this is going

"Claire Perry - Your ideas may be very noble but you are being used."

All because she could not hire someone to set up her browser filter.

<sigh>

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Anonymous Coward

So, if Duck Duck Go doesn't do similar

Then Google or Bing searches for Duck Duck Go should return a warning?

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Re: So, if Duck Duck Go doesn't do similar

Indeed. Presumably that's what they meant by blocking "pathways" to illegal content. That's the most alarming part of all this.

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This is as useful as banks putting up signs saying "Robbery not allowed"

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Pint

Good god!

I think I'll print a sign and take it to my local Wells-Fargo and see what the branch manager thinks.

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Holmes

This is as useful as banks putting up signs saying "Robbery not allowed"

Because the robbers are already in the building.

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I give it about a month

I give it about a month before the RIAA/MPAA and their sock puppets start campaigning for piracy terms to be added to the "return nothing" list.

"If you can use it to block child porn you can use it to prop up our business model".

Followed shortly by terrorism, then legal porn, and all the companies using it to block their competitors. In a year or so's time, once all the lobbying is paid for, disney.com will be the only site returned by Google.

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Re: I give it about a month

Doesn't Disney have links to Apple through via Pixar?

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Childcatcher

Re: I give it about a month

I don't know who owns the rights to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but that my get wiped off the internet searches when people type "Child Catcher".

MPAA shoots self in foot.

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I'm suspicious of any politician-led internet tinkering. But all the comments above seem to be saying only that this measure will be largely ineffective. Will it, in itself, actually do any harm?

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Big Brother

Harm ?

Well, effectively, what is happening, is Google (et al) will be distorting reality, by messing with their search results.

Once you accept the principle, all else is, to quote George Bernard Shaw "arguing about the price".

Maybe Google shouldn't return searches for politicians names ? After all, there's no need to know what they got up to in the past.

Or how about searches for government misconduct. Maybe searches for British troops breaking the Geneva convention. After all we wouldn't want to help terrorists, would we ?

I can actually see this p(l)aying into Googles hands. How long before they offer a paid-for "premium" search facility ?

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Re: Harm ?

Er, Google already mess with search results. Firstly, they've had personalised search for years, so they don't give you & me the same results for the same search string. Secondly, you are aware that different search engines give different results, yes? There isn't some magical ideal search result that must be returned according to some universal law; there are just results returned by firms who've done a load of tinkering with them according to a million criteria.

I personally am glad that Google distort reality by messing with their search results. That is in fact what makes their service useful.

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Anonymous Coward

"I'm suspicious of any politician"

Thats better.

Anonymous because they are always watching...

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Harm?

Directly, no. The concern is what it could eventually lead to. Slippery slope is more then a fallacy - it's a real effect. A warning on google and a little content filtering is all very well, but once google have demonstrated they are willing to block information relating to *one* crime, there will be calls for them to block more.

Also, even if it does no harm, it isn't going to do any good either - which means it is nothing but security theater. A very publicly but utterly ineffective display to reassure the people that Something Is Being Done.

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