Microsoft introduces child abuse pop-up warnings
Microsoft has introduced a "pop-up" warning on its Bing search engine that tells users that they are searching for illegal child abuse images.
Microsoft's Bing search engine will use pop-ups to warn users of illegal searches while Yahoo will introduce them in the coming weeks, Google has no plans to.
The company was responding to Government calls for internet giants to blacklist key search terms and prevent search results from appearing.
Yahoo has said it intends to introduce a similar measure in the coming weeks, however Google, the world's most popular search engine, has said it does not intend to use pop-ups. The company said it will continue to report material but is still considering if it will take other steps.
Microsoft announced that anyone using its search engine to look for material that shows the sexual abuse of children will trigger the Bing Notification Platform message warning that tells them the content they are looking for is against the law.
The notification will provide a link to a counselling service.
David Cameron earlier this week threatened to impose tough new laws on internet giants if they fail to blacklist key search terms for child abuse images by October as part a crackdown on online porn.
A Microsoft spokesman said: "If someone in the UK tries to use search terms on Bing which can only indicate they are looking for illegal child abuse content, they will activate the Bing Notification Platform which will produce an on-screen notification telling them that child abuse content is illegal.
"The notification will also contain a link to Stopitnow.org who will be able to provide them with counselling.
"Due to the unique and sensitive nature of child abuse and child exploitation, Microsoft has been, and remains, a strong proponent of proactive action in reasonable and scalable ways by the technology industry in the fight against technology-facilitated child exploitation.
"The Bing Notification Platform is just one way in which 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."
Microsoft said it already has a policy of removing links to illegal content as soon as possible.
The Bing Notification Platform is triggered by search terms on a list provided by the The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), Microsoft said.
Andy Baker, CEOP's deputy chief executive, welcomed the creation of the device but said it was the first step towards blocking access to the illegal images and videos, and protect children.
He called on the industry to "take ownership" of the problem.
"While the Bing project isn't the whole solution, I hope it goes some way to making those who are curious about searching for indecent images think again," he said.
"As part of our day-to-day work at CEOP we monitor the behaviour of offenders, including how they search for indecent images and the kind of language they use, which puts us in a good position to provide industry with a list of search terms as also outlined by the Prime Minister in his speech on Tuesday.
"Anything which prevents people accessing indecent images of children and stops more children from being harmed, can only be a good thing but much more is needed and the industry must play their part and take ownership of this problem."
Research by Experian last December showed that Bing had a 4.99% share of the UK search engine market, which is dominated by Google and its 88.3% market share.
A Google spokesman said: "Child abuse imagery is illegal and we have a zero tolerance policy to it.
"We use purpose built technology and work with child safety organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results.
"We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material."