Bridger case: Search engines urged to block porn sites

Pressure on Google and Microsoft to clamp down after April Jones case highlights porn link to attacks

LAST UPDATED AT 10:10 ON Fri 31 May 2013

SEARCH engines such as Google and Bing have come under intense pressure to block access to child pornography following revelations that Mark Bridger, the man convicted of killing April Jones, regularly searched the internet for child abuse and rape images.

As Bridger began a life sentence last night for the abduction and murder of the Welsh five-year-old, attention turned to the link between online child porn and attacks on minors. The Daily Telegraph points out that Stuart Hazell, the man convicted earlier this month of killing 12-year-old Tia Sharp, also accessed images of child abuse, regularly downloading them to his mobile phone.

"Bridger, like Hazell, had no previous convictions for sexual offences," the paper says. "Both went from viewing indecent images straight to the worst class of offending. With no gradual escalation in behaviour, there was nothing to suggest they were a threat to children and to alert police."

The link between online porn and sexual offending was confirmed by John Carr, a government advisor on child internet safety. He told BBC Radio 5 Live that "between 15 and 50 per cent of men who previously had no involvement with child abuse images would go on to physically harm children once they accessed them". There was "no question" that some men who look at child sex abuse images go on to carry out abuse, Carr said.  

The issue has piled pressure on web browser companies such as Google and Bing – a search engine owned by Microsoft that was used by Bridger to find child porn. Politicians, children's charities and online protection experts want them to "crack down on the way paedophiles can feed their fantasies with simple online searches".

Carr said Google and other search engines should "reset their default search setting to the safest option – blocking access to legal and illegal pornographic images". Such a move would require people who wanted to access porn to "log on to the site" – a requirement which would be a deterrent in many cases.

Meanwhile, Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz told The Times that the Bridger case had shown "we need to act to remove such content from the internet". The MP called for a code of conduct to ensure that internet service providers "remove material which breaches acceptable behaviour standards".

The call to automatically restrict access to pornographic content is likely to be opposed by some internet companies who fear it would simply drive users to sites which are unwilling to change their policy and put them at a competitive disadvantage. A Google spokesman insisted the company was serious about tackling the issue, saying it immediately removed illegal online sites from its search index when they were brought to its attention. · 

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We should be blaming our gutless politicians,they could quite easily change the law to put in place an "opt-in" policy for adult content,strange how westminster is quick to protect minority rights but does little to protect children from porn and violence online.

Google already blocks access to illegal sites when they discover or are told about them - this covers child porn.
But new ones are always being created.
Adult porn is another matter which would be covered [in part] by the more exclusive switch.
In any case, the actual porn site is still accessible directly, but difficult to find unless you have other people to tell you.
So "free speech" is not the issue as some commentators claim - Google does not take down the illegal or immoral sites.
Not is "democracy" which is about free elections, just does not help anyone to find them.

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