Blog: Seeking Justice for Children

The Seeking Justice for Children blog is a collaborative effort among attorneys, academics, and other advocates for children's rights. To submit an item for posting, please email Kimberly Jordan, director of the Justice for Children Project, at jordan.723@osu.edu.


From the Briefing Room

U.K. Announces Effort to Restrict Internet Searches for Child Abuse Images

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David Cameron recently announced a partnership between the U.K. and internet giants Google and Microsoft to rid the web of child abuse images. This effort was greeted with enthusiasm by many child advocates.

Yet, some question the practical implications of this strategy. One such question is this removal’s effect on law enforcement practices. Individuals accessing images through a Google search leave a footprint, which can then be traced. This is not always the case with the “dark web” and this new effort may drive pedophiles to more anonymous places in order to access child pornography. Whereas police would have been able to use the searches as leads to potential perpetrators, ridding Google of these search results also rids law enforcement of one easier method of identification and pursuit.

This question is reminiscent of the debate over Craigslist’s “Exotic Services” section, which had sometimes been used to advertise sex with child victims. After heavy public pressure, Craigslist did remove the section, and backpage.com subsequently saw their exotic services postings skyrocket. Craigslist had been known to go above and beyond their legal obligations in assisting law enforcement with tracking down traffickers, and so far, backpage has been similarly helpful. But, if backpage were to shut down their section, undoubtedly a new website would be created to fill the gap and it may not be as forthcoming and cooperative.