Jeremy Hunt criticises Google’s lack of cooperation on international child-abuse crackdown

Foreign secretary hits out at internet titan

Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has accused search giant Google of failing to clamp down on online child abuse.

Jeremy Hunt said the firm’s lack of cooperation with the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partnership between the UK, United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand stood in stark contrast to its stance on China.

He tweeted: “Seems extraordinary that Google is considering censoring its content to get into China but won’t cooperate with UK, US and other 5 eyes countries in removing child abuse content.”

Google has come under fire from human rights groups in recent weeks as it prepares to launch a censored version of its search engine to appease Chinese authorities. The group of 14 organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, branded the move “an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights”.

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The Foreign Secretary’s dig at Google comes after a summit of ministers from the countries involved in the ‘Five Eyes’ tie-up warned that citizens were “gravely concerned about illegal and illicit online content, particularly the online sexual exploitation of children”. 

A joint statement by the group also blasted tech firms for refusing to water down encryption technology in order to allow access for investigations, and expressed “disappointment” that industry chiefs had not attended the summit.

“The inability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to lawfully access encrypted data and communications poses challenges to law enforcement agencies’ efforts to protect our communities,” they said.

UK ministers have repeatedly attacked firms like WhatsApp for offering users end-to-end encryption of their messages. But critics have warned that watering down privacy safeguards could open up social media services to malicious attacks and compromise security.

Five Eyes itself has also attracted controversy in recent years after former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the nations involved had been hoovering up data on each others’ citizens in a bid to avoid domestic legal restrictions.

Sam Trendall

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