Net giants told to curb child porn

Internet and technology giants including Google and Microsoft are to be summoned to a meeting in Westminster where they will come under "unrelenting" pressure to do more to tackle online child porn.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller will tell the organisations to produce plans to combat the spread of child abuse images by the autumn.

Internet firms have already taken some action under pressure from ministers and in the wake of recent high-profile cases of child murder, but Mrs Miller will urge them to go further.

Mark Bridger, who killed April Jones, and Stuart Hazell, murderer of Tia Sharp, were both found to have accessed child and violent pornography and some experts argue there is a clear link between their obsessions and their actions.

BT has announced that any of its customers attempting to access web pages on the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) list of identified images of child sexual abuse will now see a message telling them that the site is blocked and the reason why. Under the current system, the site is blocked, but internet users only see an "Error 404" message.

Google has donated £1 million to the IWF, which is responsible for policing criminal content online.

But Mrs Miller said the firms could do more if they "seriously turn their minds" to the issue. She said: "Child abuse images are horrific and widespread public concern has made it clear that the industry must take action. Enough is enough. In recent days we have seen these companies rush to do more because of the pressure of an impending summit. Imagine how much more can be done if they seriously turn their minds to tackling the issue. Pressure will be unrelenting."

Representatives from Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Vodafone, O2, EE and Three are due to attend the summit.

Meanwhile, women's groups are calling on the Prime Minister to close a legal loophole that gives animals and dead people better legal protection than women and girls when it comes to internet pornography. In a letter in the Daily Telegraph, they warn that depictions of rape scenes are legal as long as the actors involved are over the age of 18. Yet the same law makes possessing images of bestiality or necrophilia illegal, meaning animals and corpses have more rights than women and girls.

The letter, signed by Mumsnet, the National Federation of Women's Institutes, the Trades Union Congress, rape crisis centres and academics at Durham University, calls on the Government to "take urgent action against violent and misogynistic pornography online".


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