Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

PM warns net giants over child porn

David Cameron is urging internet providers to 'step up to the plate'

Internet giants including Google could face tough new laws unless they take further steps to tackle graphic images of child abuse online, David Cameron has warned.

Ahead of a major speech on Monday, in which he will call for search engines to agree to block results for a "blacklist" of terms, Mr Cameron told the firms "if we don't get what we need we'll have to look at legislation".

The Prime Minister said each of the images was a "crime scene" and companies needed to act to prevent people viewing them.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I'm concerned as a politician and as a parent about this issue, and I think all of us have been a bit guilty of saying: well it's the internet, it's lawless, there's nothing you can do about it. And that's wrong. I mean just because it's the internet doesn't mean there shouldn't be laws and rules, and also responsible behaviour."

He welcomed the steps already being taken by internet firms, but added: "There is this problem ... that some people are putting simply appalling terms into the internet in order to find illegal images of child abuse.

"And, remember, every one of these pictures is a crime scene and they're getting results. I think it's wrong that they should get results and we need to have very, very strong conversations with those companies about saying no, you shouldn't provide results for some terms that are so depraved and disgusting, I can't even say them on your show. And that, I think, there's going to be a big argument there, and if we don't get what we need we'll have to look at legislation."

The Government has been involved in negotiations with technology firms over the best way to crack down on child abuse, and the main service providers have agreed to introduce ''splash pages'' which tell people if they are attempting to view illegal images. But the Prime Minister will call on firms to go further, with splash screens warning of consequences "such as losing their job, their family, even access to their children" as a result of viewing the content.

Calling for internet providers to "step up to the plate" he will say the warning pages should also direct people to the charity campaign Stop It Now, in an effort to help change people's behaviour. The Prime Minister will set an October deadline for firms to make changes to block a blacklist of search terms compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) or face the possibility of new laws forcing them to act.

Pressure to act against online child porn has increased in recent months following high-profile murder trials. Mark Bridger, who killed April Jones, and Stuart Hazell, murderer of Tia Sharp, were both found to have accessed child and violent pornography. Mr Cameron met April's and Tia's families in Downing Street last week to discuss the issue.

A Google spokesman said: "We have a zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery. Whenever we discover it, we respond quickly to remove and report it. We recently donated five million dollars (£3.28 million) to help combat this problem and are committed to continuing the dialogue with the Government on these issues."

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