Google, governments team up to fight paedophiles

Spies, cops and U.S. technology giants are teaming up to tackle pedophiles operating on the so-called dark net in an initiative announced by the U.K., which is facing questions over its handling of child abuse cases.

A unit formed between Britain's GCHQ spy agency and National Crime Agency (NCA) will tackle child abusers operating on the so-called "dark net" – a way for pedophiles to share files and email in an anonymous way.

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The government hopes the new unit will be able to track the "digital footprints" of online child abuse offenders and bring them to justice.

Artur Debat | Moment Mobile | Getty Images

"The so-called 'dark-net' is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images," Prime Minister David Cameron said in a press release.

"I want them to hear loud and clear, we are shining a light on the web's darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending there will be nowhere for you to hide."

Digital fingerprints

U.S. technology companies Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Yahoo are also on board with Cameron's plans. These companies will use so called "hash values" or digital fingerprints to identify images of child abuse and block them from being viewed and shared.

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Microsoft, Google and Mozilla are looking into implementing restrictions in their respective internet browsers to prevent people accessing sites known to contain child abuse material.

"Every time someone chooses to view an online image or a video of a child being abused, they are choosing to participate in a horrific crime. Every single view represents that victim being abused again. They may as well be in the room with them," Cameron said.

Britain's government has been under fire for its handling of child abuse in the U.K. after a report earlier this year found that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013 in the north England town of Rotherham.

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Child sex abuse by high profile celebrities has also been uncovered and the inquiry set up by the government to investigate ran into problems after two people set up to lead the investigation stepped down.

Cameron also announced partnerships with other countries and law enforcement agencies to tackle pedophiles, backed by a £50 million fund ($78.6 million).