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Google is getting serious about child pornography. Very serious. In an op-ed in the UK’s Daily Mail, Google chairman Eric Schmidt reveals some of the measures the internet giant has taken to clean up its search results.
While both Google and Microsoft have spent years working with law enforcement agencies on the problem, he says, Google has increased its efforts over the past few years, employing over 200 people to tackle the problem.
According to Schmidt, the company has fine tuned its search results to “prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results”.
“While no algorithm is perfect — and Google cannot prevent paedophiles adding new images to the web,” Schmidt writes, “these changes have cleaned up the results for over 100 000 queries that might be related to the sexual abuse of kids”.
The clean up will affect English-speaking countries first, before rolling out to the rest of the world within the next six months. According to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, adding a warning to these searches had already resulted in a 20% drop in activity.
As Schmidt notes in his op-ed however, the fight is bound to be an ongoing one. “There’s no quick technical fix when it comes to detecting child sexual abuse imagery,” he writes. “This is because computers can’t reliably distinguish between innocent pictures of kids at bathtime and genuine abuse. So we always need to have a person review the images”.