Microsoft’s Bing search engine has become the first to establish a warning system for anyone that tries to search for images of child abuse through the site.
A pop-up will warn users the content they’re attempting to search for is illegal and direct them to a link that offers ‘help and advice’ provided by the counselling group StopItNow.org.
"Microsoft remains a strong proponent of proactive action by the technology industry in the fight against child exploitation,” explained a company statement.
"The Bing Notification Platform is just one way Microsoft is working to tackle the scourge of online child abuse content.
“In addition, we have teams dedicated globally to abuse reporting on our services and the development of new innovations to combat child exploitation more broadly".
The controls apply only to searches made in the UK and the pop-up will be displayed when people enter search terms that feature on a ‘blacklist’ compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
Bing is the first of the major search engines to make such a move in the wake of a June meeting of major web firms (opens in new tab)at Downing Street where No.10 requested they do more to combat child abuse online.
Prime Minister David Cameron went further earlier this month by drawing up plans under which households will be forced to ‘opt-in’ to adult material (opens in new tab) with their ISP or face the prospect of no access.
Yahoo, a site that uses Bing technology on its home page, is reportedly considering a similar move, with Google not planning to use pop-ups and instead continuing to report material in the way it does currently.
Groups that are already actively combating child abuse online, such as CEOP, praised Bing for the move whilst adding that more still needs to be done to fight abusive images appearing online.
"This is a positive step in the right direction to deterring potential offenders from accessing indecent images of children on the internet. But it is a small, initial part of the solution to prevent child sexual abuse, protect children and pursue offenders,” CEOP deputy chief executive Andy Baker said.