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Google to block some child sexual abuse search results

The world’s biggest search engine is using new technology to stop 100,000 different searches from resulting in images of children being abused.

Image: Adam Peck/PA Archive/Press Association Images

GOOGLE IS TO bring in a raft of new measures in a bid to make it more difficult for people to find images of child sexual abuse on the internet.

The world’s biggest search engine said the changes will prevent photographs of children being abused appearing for more than 100,000 different searches.

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said the new technology will initially apply to English-speaking countries but will be expanded to the rest of the world and 158 other languages within six months.

“While society will never wholly eliminate such depravity, we should do everything in our power to protect children from harm,” Schmidt wrote in the Daily Mail today.

Schmidt said Google has had more than 200 people working on developing state-of-the-art technology over the past three months.

“We’ve fine tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results,” he said.

Warnings will now appear if someone puts one of 13,000 queries into the search engine which say that child sexual abuse is illegal and which offer advice on where to get help.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that more still needs to be done but that it is a strong step.

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“The battle isn’t over, but search engines are showing responsibility by accepting my challenge to do more to stop child abuse imagery online,” he said in a tweet this morning.

“While no algorithm is perfect – and Google cannot prevent paedophiles adding new images to the web  these changes have cleaned up the results for over 100,000 queries that might be related to the sexual abuse of kids,” Schmidt said.

A summit on internet safety is due to begin at Downing Street today where technology companies will discuss plans on how to further tackle child abuse on the internet.

Read: 3,000 suspected child pornography reports in Ireland last year >

Column: Child abuse is a serious crime. It deserves a serious punishment >

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Christine Bohan

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