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Bishop backs plans for new internet blocks on child abuse images

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart has welcomed a decision by the major internet companies to block Internet searches for child abuse image or the first time by Microsoft and Google after months of mounting pressure.

The groundbreaking move will soon prevent illegal images and videos from appearing in more than 100,000 search terms associated with abuse.

Google says it has also developed technology that will allow illegal videos to be "tagged" so all duplicate copies can be removed across the internet. The changes will apply across the world in more than 150 languages.

Bishop Urquhart has told Premier why he thinks search engine companies had a responsibility to act. 

Microsoft, which operates and powers Bing and Yahoo confirmed the move at a Downing Street summit on online pornography today that it is introducing similar reforms. Google chairman Eric Schmidt, said: "We've listened.We've fine-tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results."

The Prime Minister welcomed the move as a "really significant step forward", but threatened to bring forward new legislation if search engine companies failed to deliver on their promises. Some child protection experts have raised doubts over the changes, saying paedophiles rarely use search engines but instead use services such as peer-to-peer sharing.

Simon Bass from the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour why he wants internet companies to go one step further:

Calls for internet companies to take action against searching for illegal content grew following the trials of child killers Mark Bridger and Stuart Hazel earlier this year. Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones, and Hazel, who killed 12-year-old Tia Sharp, both used the internet to search for child abuse images before the killings.

Senior figures from Google, Microsoft and BT were summoned to Parliament for a meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller in June where they were told they had to do more to combat the issue. Miranda Suit from Christian campaign group Safer Media which has been lobbying for the blocks has told Premier why she wants the Government must also keep its promises on so called 'opt-in filters'.

 The crackdown comes as Mr Cameron also revealed at the summit that Britain's National Crime Agency is to join America's FBI to tackle online child abuse.

The transatlantic taskforce is being established by the US assistant attorney general and the British to target criminals who use the internet to hide from the law. It will be specifically tasked with tracking down offenders who use the "dark web" - secret and encrypted networks that are increasingly being exploited by paedophiles and other criminals.

The NCA estimates the number of UK daily users of secret or encrypted networks will have risen to 20,000 by the end of the year.

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