Microsoft introduces Bing child abuse search pop-ups

29 Jul, 2013

Updated: Software giant makes Bing the first search engine to launch anti-child abuse image system.

Microsoft-owned search engine Bing has become the first in the UK to introduce pop-up notifications for people who try to use the service to find child abuse images.

The notifications are designed to alert users to the fact the content they are trying to view is illegal, and are triggered when users enter search terms that have been blacklisted by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

This is in addition to Microsoft’s existing and longstanding policy of removing any verified links to illegal content of this sort.

The pop-ups only apply to UK searches, and are designed to stop people “drifting towards” trying to find illegal content on the internet using search engines, a Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC.

“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,” the spokesperson continued.

“Microsoft has been, and remains, a strong proponent of proactive action in 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.”

The introduction of the pop-ups follows on from an announcement made last week by the Prime Minister David Cameron about a series of anti-online pornography measures the Government is planning to introduce.

They include the rollout of online pornography blocks to every internet connected household in the UK, which will be automatically switched on unless users ask for them not to be.

In a separate measure, search engines will also be asked to block access to illegal content by October, as well as introduce similar pop-up notifications to the ones Microsoft has now rolled out.

IT Pro contacted Google to find out if it plans to follow Microsoft’s lead on pop-up notifications, and received a statement reiterating the firm's "zero-tolerance" stance on child abuse imagery.

"We use purpose built technology and work with child safety organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results. We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material,” the statement concluded.

*This story was published on the morning of 29 July, before being updated later in the afternoon with a statement from Google.*