Microsoft adds child abuse pop-up warnings to Bing

Bing

Microsoft bows to government pressure on tackling child abuse images

Microsoft's Bing will display warnings when users attempt to search for images of child abuse.

The notification will tell users that child abuse is illegal, and provide a link to the Stop It Now counselling service.

"If someone in the UK tries to use search terms on Bing which can only indicate they are looking for illegal child abuse content, they will activate the Bing notification platform, which will produce an on-screen notification telling them that child abuse content is illegal," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

"The notification will also contain a link to Stopitnow.org who will be able to provide them with counselling."

Yahoo, which uses Bing's technology for its own search engine, has said it will consider a similar move. According to StatCounter, Bing currently has less than a 6% share of the UK's search engine market.

Google, with around 90% of the UK search engine market, has said it won't introduce similar pop-ups. But it is also already working on its own system to make it easier to detect and wipe images of child abuse.

"We use purpose-built technology and work with child safety organisations to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results. We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material," a spokesperson told the BBC.

Continued pressure

The move comes after the government placed pressure on tech firms to take a proactive approach to tackling images of child abuse online.

The prime minister has urged search engines to display notifications to anyone looking for illegal content, warning them of dire consequences such as "losing their job, their family, even access to their children".

BT said it would take such steps last month, showing a warning page to those attempting to access images of child abuse.

But it isn't clear how useful pop-up warnings are, with the deputy head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) commenting that most people don't "stumble across" illegal content via search.

Web firms have until October to implement a block against certain search terms blacklisted by CEOP, or else face legislation, the prime minister has warned.

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