Microsoft Bing has become the first Internet search engine to display pop-up warnings to users who search for child abuse content.
The warning is shown only on searches made within the UK for terms included in a blacklist compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
The notification will tell the users the content they are searching for is illegal and provide details of a counselling service.
CEOP welcomed the move, but said it was a small, initial part of a wider solution and acknowledged its blacklist could not possibly include every single term that might be used.
Others have suggested it won’t deter digitally literate paedophiles, but it might prevent those who have a marginal interest in accessing such content.
Yahoo, which uses Bing technology in its search engine, is believed to be considering a similar move, but Google says it is not planning to use pop-ups and will instead continue with its policy of reporting offensive and illegal material.
Bing’s measure falls short of the Prime Minister’s calls for warnings explaining the damage that a criminal conviction would have on a person’s career, family and access to their children. David Cameron has also called for search engines to block certain searches from even providing results.
Last week, the government announced plans to force ISPs to offer an opt-out adult content filter in order to protect children online. However critics have argued this will be ineffective and give parents a false sense of security.
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