Don't blame Google for Child abuse images; look towards the IWF

You can't seem to pass a day without either the media, a politician or someone-other commenting and looking for a scapegoat to blame the bad things that happen in this world; more often than not it's towards the internet and ISP's such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk or Google, Bing, Facebook and other large internet companies.

We have recently seen it with the return of Thersea May's Communications Data Bill - the so-called "Snoopers charter". Apparently, according to her, the interception of seeing who the sender and receiver is of every email could have prevented Lee Rigby's death; although there is no actual evidence to support this view, not to mention that fact that the security services already have the ability to do this with a court order.

More recently, since the sentencing of Mark Bridger, the media and politicians are demanding that companies such as Google and Bing remove child abuse images from the web. This infuriates me. The lack of understanding, ignorance and misinformation coming from politicians and media alike is shocking.

Child abuse images are already blocked form being displayed in search engines, and many are already blocked from access within the UK full stop. An independent self-regulatory body - which is funded by the EU, ISP's, Mobile operators and companies such as Google and Bing - called the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has been working tirelessly since 1996 to block child abuse and "criminally obscene" content from appearing on the web.

The media are crying out for child pornography to be removed from search engines, and for hosted content to be removed. The reality is, if newspapers did a bit more research and fact checking, is that this is already happening. Google already remove links when notified from the IWF, and ISPs within the UK already block access to sites via a database provided to them from the IWF. Although over the past few weeks I don't think I have heard one politician, or seen one media outlet even mention them.

Britain is already a world-leader in this field, in thanks to the IWF, but the issue isn't that companies such as Google aren't doing enough; and the onus shouldn't be placed on them either. The issue is that the IWF needs more funding, more public awareness. The police need more powers, and technical experts, to better track down the posters and hosters of this content. There needs to be an international effort and more pressure applied to hosting companies to ensure their terms and conditions are enforced and that they take down this disgusting content - but more so than this - there needs pressure aimed at the right areas to achieve this, and this needs to be driven by an informed media and by politicians who actually have a slight understanding of the problem.

Blaming search engines and ISP's is just pathetic, scapegoating and showing a complete lack of understanding. Worryingly, it's this same set of ill-informed people who are writing and lobbying for legislation around porn, data privacy and intelligence gathering. It's about time that we get an MP who actually has a grasp of technology in Parliament; whom can drive forward more thought-out and informed legislation.

Anyway, rant over.

Update: As if like that, the Daily Mail now appear to have mentioned the IWF in an article; the first time since 31/10/2011

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