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Internet safety summit at Downing Street: communiqué

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The Prime Minister hosted a meeting to discuss how to rid the internet of child abuse and other illegal content.

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The Prime Minister met with the internet search engines, internet service providers (ISPs), Joanna Shields, the National Crime Agency, Internet Watch Foundation and the NSPCC in Downing Street today to discuss how to rid the internet of child abuse.

At the summit, attendees agreed action to block child abuse search results worldwide, help people search the internet safely, continue to work to bring offenders to justice and a series of further steps to help remove child abuse from the internet.

Measures agreed at the summit

Preventing child abuse search results

  • Google and Microsoft have introduced changes to their search engines to prevent any images, videos or pathways to child abuse being returned from blacklist search terms used by paedophiles
  • Google have implemented changes that prevent child abuse results against 100,000 unique searches worldwide. These search changes will be rolled out in 159 languages over the next 6 months
  • Microsoft have prevented all child abuse images, videos and pathways from Bing and Yahoo! searches of blacklist terms supplied by the National Crime Agency, and are working now on a rapid expansion of this approach to block all child abuse content against a much wider list of search terms
  • Google and Microsoft have agreed that this will be a constantly evolving approach that tracks the latest terms being used by paedophiles and cuts off access to child abuse material
  • the Director General of the National Crime Agency confirmed that their initial tests showed that the changes introduced by the search engines are working; and committed to committed to working with government to monitor the progress the industry is making
  • Google and Microsoft have also implemented clear warning messages which appear whenever people use blacklist child abuse search terms, telling people of the consequences of their actions and pointing them to charities, such as stopitnow.org.uk, who can help
  • on Google searches alone, this will mean warning messages appearing against 13,000 search terms

Taking down images, videos and pathways across the internet

  • removing images: Google and Microsoft both welcomed the national database of child abuse images being set up by the government from next year; the database will use Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology to create unique image identifiers that enable the removal of child abuse images and any copies of them across the internet
  • removing videos: Google have developed and agreed to share new technology that allows duplicate copies videos of child abuse on the open web to be identified and removed
  • removing pathways: Google and Microsoft have agreed to take part in a joint work programme between the search engines, Internet Watch Foundation and Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre to tackle the problem of peer-to-peer networks, which will establish a new reporting process to remove pathways to child sexual abuse

Helping people search the internet safely

  • Google and Microsoft have made changes to their auto-completion features to prevent suggestions that lead people to child abuse searches

Bringing offenders to justice

  • the government reiterated its commitment to use the new National Crime Agency – with over 4,000 dedicated staff – to provide a step-change in our enforcement action to bring paedophiles to justice
  • the industry committed to continuing the swift reporting of illegal child abuse images to law enforcement
  • the Prime Minister made clear that he would consider whether further powers were needed for the police and National Crime Agency to help investigate and prosecute offenders

Next steps in ridding the internet of child abuse

  • the search engines committed to continuing to develop and improve their capabilities to prevent child abuse search results
  • government and industry agreed that the joint UK-US taskforce should include a specific, in-depth programme of work on how we tackle paedophiles using the ‘hidden internet’ to view and share child abuse images
  • the Prime Minister confirmed that, building on the work of the UK-US taskforce, the UK will hold an international summit next year to bring together governments, law enforcement, charities and industry to agree international follow-up to the agreement reached today
  • the summit will include a specific focus on protecting the victims of online child abuse, and how we can work internationally to prevent children being exploited online

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

We have made huge progress in terms of getting child abuse imagines off the internet. It is worth remembering that we were told that cleaning up searches couldn’t be done and shouldn’t be done. We’re now being told by the industry that it can be done and will be done and 100,000 unique searches will now get clean results not just here in the UK but around the world. That is a massive breakthrough in cleaning up the internet, in dealing with the repulsive crime of child abuse and I think the industry are to be praised for the way they have responded to the initiative I launched back in July.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said:

The sexual abuse of children is a global challenge, and success depends on everyone working together - law enforcement, Internet companies and charities. We welcome the lead taken by the British government, and hope that the technology developed by our industry will make a real difference in the fight against this terrible crime.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said:

We’re putting in place even stronger measures and deploying technology improvements to identify and eliminate Internet content that portrays child sexual abuse. Stamping out these horrific images takes a team effort, so Microsoft is working in close partnership with the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre, the Internet Watch Foundation, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Google and the UK government among others.

Published 18 November 2013