Following no small amount of pressure from the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron, Google has announced a new initiative which will see it clean up search results for queries relating to underage sexual abuse.
Taking to the pages of the UK's Daily Mail, Eric Schmidt announced that Google has put together a team of 200 people over the last three months to help clean up the results displayed when people search for terms relating to child pornography. With Microsoft pitching in with picture-detection technology and Google’s YouTube contributing video identification, the new scheme will, in the words of the Daily Mail, “prevent depraved images and videos from appearing.” Writing in the newspaper, Eric Schmidt explained:
“We've listened. We've fine-tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results... 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... But as David Cameron said in a speech this summer there's always more that can be done.”
The new restrictions will apply to English-speaking countries around the world, and they'll be expanded to cover 158 other languages over the next six months. Speaking to the Daily Mail, David Cameron explained that he thinks “Google and Microsoft have come a long way,” but also admitted that he thought more could be done. "There are some terms that are so shocking and unambiguous that I believe they should return nothing at all,” he added. “It's not an infringement of free speech, it's responsible business practice.” In that case, it remains to be seen just how responsible Google will be. [Daily Mail]