Google and Microsoft announce block on child pornography

Search engine giants Google and Microsoft have agreed to impose a worldwide block on search results containing images of child abuse.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt announced the plans today ahead of a Downing Street summit on online pornography later.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Schmidt revealed that over 100,000 search queries relating to the sexual abuse of children will now return no results containing illegal material.

"While no algorithm is perfect – and Google cannot prevent paedophiles adding new images to the web – these changes have cleaned up the results for over 100,000 queries that might be related to the sexual abuse of kids.

"As important, we will soon roll out these changes in more than 150 languages, so the impact will be truly global."

Microsoft will be working closely with Google to enforce these new measures, meaning that its search engine Bing will also produce the same results.

"Once we know the pictures are illegal, each image is given a unique digital fingerprint," Schmidt explained. "This enables our computers to identify those pictures whenever they appear on our systems. And Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for developing and sharing its picture detection technology."

Representatives of both Google and Microsoft will be present at the Internet Safety Summit at Downing Street later today. The two companies will be working with the UK's National Crime Agency and the British child abuse charity Internet Watch Foundation.

Earlier this year, Google donated £1 million to the Internet Watch Foundation, following criticism from Cameron that search engines were failing to use their resources to help rid the internet of child abuse images.