Background

A while ago, Google removed its “don’t be evil” clause from its code of conduct.

Is this decision predictive of Google’s stance on sexual exploitation issues?

In short: it’s complicated.

Google is a vast corporate empire, and there have been some important steps forward that Google has taken to combat sexual exploitation, including responses to NCOSE activism to remove pornographic apps from GooglePlay, ceasing pornographic Google Ads, expanding WiFi filtering tools, and improving the visibility of the SafeSearch filtering option in Google Images.

Nevertheless, Google has been named to the Dirty Dozen List because it has failed to proactively address serious digital harms flourishing on YouTube, Google Chromebooks, and Google Images. Further, Google is currently working to roll out large-scale encryption programs that could make it difficult for law enforcement to effectively find and intercept sexual exploiters of children and it could impact filtering for families and schools.


More details about Google’s encryption efforts (known as DoH, which stands for DNS over HTTPS.)

On September 17, 2019, 20 child safety and anti-trafficking organizations sent a letter to Congressional committee leaders raising serious alarms about Google and Mozilla/Cloudfare’s plans to centralize control of the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) system in a way that could undermine or block online child protection tools and services.

Google and Mozilla/Cloudfare are stating to rout DNS requests from Chrome and Firefox browsers, and Android mobile devices, through their own DNS system using a new encrypted protocol called DoH. In doing so, they will bypass the current DNS system, which is a critical component of ongoing efforts by ISPs, technology providers, and law enforcement to prevent, monitor, and prosecute crimes against children, such as the sharing of child sexual abuse images.

These changes could: 1) Make online crimes against children harder to track by law enforcement and Internet watchdogs, and; 2) Create confusion and make it harder to filter and remove illegal content normally blocked by network operators, ISPs, and other third-party DNS providers, including schools.

To be clear, we recognize the value of increasing security and privacy tools. However, across America and the UK, technology, sexual exploitation, law enforcement and child development experts are alarmed by the unilateral rollout of these changes without sufficient subject matter consultation.

These changes could impact 70% of the Internet and so we must closely examine the unintended consequences, especially on the most vulnerable in the realm of sexual exploitation and abuse.

.@Google and @mozilla / Cloudfare’s plans to centralize control of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) system could undermine or block online child protection tools and services. They need to slow down and properly consider child online… Click To Tweet

Four Areas of Concern

Three Areas of Concern

Progress

Google Images Improves Search, Decreases Unwanted Porn Exposure

Google changed its policies and algorithms on Google Images to decrease exposure to hardcore pornography for users looking up unrelated or innocent terms. Now, Google Images will return educational drawings for most anatomical search terms.

Read More

Apr 21 2020

Safe Search

In 2018, NCOSE met with Google executives and asked for Safe Search to be put in the top right corner of Google Images. Google agreed and placed it in the top right of Google Images. Now more users will know the filter is available to them.

Read More

2018

YouTube Kids App

Feb 23 2015

Google AdWords prohibits explicit content

In June 2014, Google enacted policies for AdWords to no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts or ads that link to websites that have such material in them.

June 2014

GooglePlay Cleaned Up

In 2013, Google announced that pornographic and sexually explicit apps would no longer be allowed in GooglePlay. This policy was enforced, with hundreds of apps removed from the app store, in March 2014.

Read More

2013

Robust Family Safety Center

Google regularly updates and improves the Family Safety Center with great tools and ways to protect children from exploitation and other online dangers. Check it regularly!

Visit the Google Family Center

Action

Email the Google Play App Store

While the Apple app store does not carry an app for the pseudo-dating prostitution site SeekingArrangement, the Google Play app store does! (learn more about Seeking Arrangement here.)

Email executives to tell them to stop hosting this exploitive app.

Take Action

Google DoH child safety

Petition: Slow Down Google’s Large-Scale Encryption Efforts to Ensure Online Safety

Google is rolling out large-scale encryption efforts (referred to as DoH, for DNS over HTTPS.)

Sign the petition to stand with us!

These changes could: 1) Make online crimes against children harder to track by law enforcement and Internet watchdogs, and; 2) Create confusion and make it harder to filter and remove illegal content normally blocked by network operators, ISPs, and other third-party DNS providers, including schools.

Have your kids been exposed to sexually explicit content through their schools?

You may remain anonymous if you wish, please indicate your preference.

Submit Your Story

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Tell Google to Remove Graphic Pornography from Images Search

Google: Thank You Petition

Google is a vast corporate empire, and there have been some important steps forward that Google has taken to combat sexual exploitation, including responses to NCOSE activism to remove pornographic apps from GooglePlay, ceasing pornographic Google Ads, improving WiFi filtering tools, and improving the visibility of the SafeSearch filtering option in Google Images.

Sign the Petition to YouTube

Help us urge YouTube to change the way they operate. They must use the necessary resources to decrease the sexually graphic content on their site.

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Document explaining Google/Mozilla/Cloudflare's plan for DoH
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Google lobbyist backpage sex trafficking

Updates

VICTORY! Google Prohibiting Prostitution Advertisements and Re-Categorizing Sexually Violent Content

Google has been at the forefront of The National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s corporate advocacy since we first started the initiative in 2013. We’ve been pressing on this global tech titan to make significant changes in order to stem sexual abuse through its products used by over a billion people.   One of our most consistent…

Corporations Making Changes: 2020 Victories to Celebrate 

February 9, 2021 is the global observance of Safer Internet Day. Safer Internet Day focuses on the idea that everyone plays an important role in making the internet better. To protect children online, and create a space where all are free from the harms of sexual abuse and exploitation, we all—families, corporations, governments—play an important…

STATEMENT – Yes, Parler Has Issues. But Google and Amazon Must Also Confront Violence, Exploitation

Washington, DC (January 12, 2021) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) called on Google and Amazon to eradicate violence and sexually-exploitative content on their platforms and in their products, in keeping with their recent decisions to remove social media platform, Parler, for hosting content deemed to incite violence. Both Google and Amazon are on NCOSE’s 2020 Dirty Dozen List for being mainstream…

NCOSE Director of Public Policy Testifies in Front of Bipartisan Task Force

On October 1, 2020, Dr. Eleanor Gaetan, Director of Public Policy at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), testified in front of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. The task force, which includes Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Susan Davis (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and John Katko (R-NY), was holding a virtual roundtable…

Corporations in the Classroom: What are Google and EBSCO teaching our kids?

This blog was edited on 10/30/20 in the section about EBSCO for further clarity after receiving a request to do so from EBSCO’s legal counsel. Please see the letter from EBSCO and our response on our webpage about EBSCO here.  Corporations and brands shape culture, and unfortunately, their influence has permeated into our education system….

Join with NCOSE to Increase Internet Safety in 2020

*This blog is the second in a series for Internet Safety Month 2020. The first part covers current actions NCOSE supports in order to fight for internet safety. This second part covers progress that still needs to be made on this front.* As designated by the U.S Senate, June is National Internet Safety Month in…

Internet Safety

STATEMENT – Google Fails to Protect Kids on School Sanctioned Chromebooks

National Center on Sexual Exploitation Calls on Google to Create Safer Products for Kids Amid COVID-19 and Internet Safety Month Washington, DC (June 10, 2020) – In recognition of Internet Safety Month, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is calling on Google to make necessary fixes to Chromebook laptops to prevent children from easily…

STATEMENT – Google Images Improves Search, Decreases Unwanted Porn Exposure

Washington, DC (April 21, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) applauded Google for changing policies and algorithms on Google Images to decrease exposure to hardcore pornography for users looking up unrelated or innocent terms. Google was named to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2020 Dirty Dozen List in part because of…

Progress! Google Images Improves Search, Decreases Unwanted Porn Exposure

This time last year, Google Images, the site used by most people to find photos on the Internet, exposed children to countless graphic hardcore pornography images in less than 1 second, even for innocent or educational searches. Searches for basic anatomical terms did not yield scientific drawings but instead returned endless pages of images of…

7th Grade Girl Exposed to Porn on School Device

Excerpt from ky3 Some Springfield parents are concerned about inappropriate material that’s accessible on their children’s school-issued Chromebooks. They contacted KY3 News about those concerns, specifically that pornography being viewed by young children in an ad at the bottom of a web page. “I started teaching in public schools over 20 years ago, and for…