MID AND WEST WALES Assembly Member, Rebecca Evans, has welcomed news that leading search engine companies have agreed measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online – but says “there is more to do”.
Rebecca Evans AM, who recently led a debate at the National Assembly for Wales on keeping children safe online, has given a cautious welcome to news that internet giants, Google and Microsoft are taking steps to prevent child abuse images to be searched for on their search engines.
The companies have agreed measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online. As many as 100,000 search terms will now return no results that find illegal material, and will trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal.
Cautiously welcoming the announcement, Mrs Evans said:“It is good news that internet search engines will make it harder to find abusive images. This move has been a long time coming.
“Preventing access to abusive images on the web is of course welcome, and may help stop the proliferation of child abuse images online. It may also play a role in preventing the curious from seeking out images of child abuse, and starting down the road of viewing more and more extreme content.
“However, more needs to be done to tackle paedophiles who mainly use hidden websites and backchannels to view and share illegal images andvideo clips.”
The “deep web” or “darknet” – parts of the web not catalogued by search engines that search crawlers do not visit or cannot find – will not be affected by these changes, and this is the major part of the internet where
people exchange explicit abusive and violent material online.
Mrs Evans added: “The UK Government needs to do more to support and work with experts like the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to find ways to actively search for and stop people who create, view and share such material.
“The UK Government also needs to give real teeth to the newly formed National Crime Agency (NCA) to hunt online predators.”
Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), told BBC Breakfast he did not think the measures would make any difference with regard to protecting children from paedophiles.
“They don’t go on to Google to search for images. They go on to the dark corners of the internet on peer-to-peer websites,” he said.
He said search engines had already been blocking inappropriate content and the latest move was just an enhancement of what was already happening.
A better solution would be to spend £1.5m on hiring 12 child protection experts and 12 co-ordinators in each of the police regions to hunt down online predators, he added.