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Google's Eric Schmidt announces new blocks on child porn

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Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has outlined how his company is introducing new measures to block child pornography from appearing in its searches. Schmidt explained the changes to Google's search function in an op-ed in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper following a campaign of pressure from British politicians.

Eric Schmidt outlined Google's new measures in Britain's 'Daily Mail' newspaper

Schmidt broke the new measures down into subcategories that included "cleaning up" more than 100,000 search results and introducing new warnings that appear above more than 13,000 results, warnings that reiterate that child porn and child sexual abuse is illegal and offer avenues for help. Despite these changes, Schmidt says in his op-ed that "there's no quick technical fix when it comes to detecting child sexual abuse imagery." Instead, Google will use humans to review the images to discern the difference between "genuine abuse" and "innocent pictures of kids at bathtime." Schmidt also details plans to send engineers to the UK's Internet Watch Foundation and the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in addition to funding internships at both organizations.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is in the midst of an attempted crackdown on pornography in general, with a particular focus on stopping search engines from showing child porn. Earlier this year, Cameron called for "Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the rest" to censor their search results, saying in July: "If there are technical obstacles to acting on [search engines], don't just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them." Google has previously shied away from censoring its results directly, choosing instead to develop an open database to which law enforcement agencies, charities, and relevant organizations could add the details of abusive imagery that could then be hidden or removed.

Google's new blocks have "cleaned up" more than 100,000 search results

Schmidt's op-ed comes before a British parliamentary meeting today to discuss the clampdown on child porn. Google's new measures — and the fact one of its most public faces addressed the issue in one of the UK's most partisan papers — suggest the search giant is taking the issue very seriously.

But despite Google's best efforts, new search filters sadly won't remove child porn from the internet on their own. BBC News cites a report from Cameron's own Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre that explains most child pornography can't be found through Google or Bing searches, existing instead on peer-to-peer networks or on the "deep web," protected by anonymity software such as Tor. Without large companies such as Google acting as gatekeepers in these darker corners of the internet, Cameron will need to look elsewhere for "great brains" to continue his campaign.