Bing Search Engine
Microsoft’s UK version of Bing (the popular search engine) now includes pop-up warnings that flash at users searching for inappropriate online images of children. The pop-ups include a strict warning that such content is illegal. In addition, the pop-ups link users to appropriate counseling services where help can be sought.
Microsoft’s new move comes on the heels of a new initiative recently implemented by the UK government preventing Internet users from viewing explicit sites depicting illegal acts.
Bing: It's All About The Kids
Working alongside the UK agency Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), Microsoft is filtering a blacklist of search terms that will cause the aforementioned pop-up to appear. Yahoo! displays Bing results through its own search engine, and is also considering filtering results in the same fashion.
In a statement, Microsoft said the notifications are intended to:
“…stop those who may be drifting towards trying to find illegal content on the web via search engines…this is in addition to Microsoft's existing and longstanding policy of removing any verified links to illegal content of this sort from Bing as quickly as possible.
Microsoft has been, and remains, a strong proponent of proactive action in a reasonable and scalable ways by the technology industry in the fight against technology-facilitated child exploitation. We have teams dedicated globally to abuse reporting on our services and the development of new innovations to combat child exploitation more broadly.”
Google, however, still intends to take matters into their own hands, relying on a unique method of self-reporting. Google will continue to report inappropriate content to child protection agencies as part of a “zero tolerance” stance.
The PM's Stance
Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently addressed the issue stating:
“…there needs to be a list of terms, a blacklist, which offer up no direct search returns. There are some searches which are so abhorrent and where they can be no doubt whatsoever about the sick and malevolent intent of the searcher. I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the rest. You have a duty to act on this — and it is a moral duty.”
What About The US?
Cameron plans to meet with representatives from all major search engines in October in order to see how far they've come in the process of blocking these blacklisted terms CEOP has compiled. A UK-US joint task force will also be created in order to cut down on these websites featuring violent and illegal content.
The question posed by many, though, is: why doesn't Microsoft implement the same search engine filters in the US and other areas that rely on Bing? Currently, these filters only apply to those searches it identifies as based in the UK. Is it only a matter of time?
One thing is clear: if you are thinking of seeking out these cheap hosting sites featuring illegal or violent content, you'd better think again. Search engines are onto you!