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Google, Microsoft announce steps to block child porn. Will they succeed? (+video)

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(Read caption) Google and Microsoft unveiled measures to block online searches for child sex abuse images on Monday as part of a bid by British authorities to crackdown on Internet pedophiles. The companies said as many as 100,000 search terms will now fail to produce results and trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal while offering advice on where to get help. The world's two largest search engine operators' move was a rare display of unity ahead of an Internet safety summit on Monday, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
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After months of pressure from the British government, tech rivals Google and Microsoft have announced they are working together to try to push child pornography off the public Internet. The two companies, which account for 95 percent of all online searches, will reprogram their search engines so that 100,000 terms potentially related to the sexual abuse of children will no longer yield links to illegal images.

"We're agreed that child sexual imagery is a case apart; it's illegal everywhere in the world, there's a consensus on that. It's absolutely right that we identify this stuff, we remove it, and we report it to the authorities," Peter Barron, a Google communications director, told the BBC. The filters will take effect immediately in Britain and roll out in more than 150 languages over the next six months.

The details of how and when the system will roll out in the United States are unclear, but the algorithm changes are already in place, an industry source says.

“The sexual abuse of children ruins young lives. It’s why we proactively remove these awful images from our services – and report offenders to the authorities," said Mr. Barron in a statement released by Google.

While Barron was careful to make a distinction between child sexual imagery and other online content that's inherently abusive, some free-speech advocates see the crackdown as being at the top of a slippery slope toward a government-controlled Internet – especially since it comes on the heels of Edward Snowden's revelations that the British and US governments have been tapping these same companies for user information for at least six years in the name of criminal and security investigations.

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