The move by Yahoo.co.uk to block access to American chatrooms hosted by the company on its Instant Messenger (IM) client will not protect children in the UK from paedophiles, investigations by ZDNet UK News have revealed.
On Monday the UK arm of the dot-com giant claimed it was modifying its UK IM client to effectively remove the "chat" facility. However a spokesman admitted that "hypothetically" paedophiles could still use its chat facilities both in the US and the UK. Yahoo! claims it has no control over the dot-com chatrooms but will remove UK illegal content. "The dot-com chatrooms are still on US servers. We can't tell the US what to do," he says.
Yahoo! has been the subject of close scrutiny by ZDNet News since Patrick Green was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl he met in a US-hosted Yahoo! chatroom. The chatroom "older men for younger gals" is still running on US servers and is still available in the UK using the IM client downloaded from Yahoo.com. Yahoo.com was recently placed second most visited site in the UK by Internet measurement firm MMXI, ahead of Yahoo.co.uk which came seventh.
In September, ZDNet UK News reported the presence of chatrooms with paedophile content to Yahoo!. In October, assurances were given in an Eye2Eye interview with UK managing director Martina King that "effective" and "robust" solutions would be found to deal with the use of Yahoo! facilities by paedophiles.
King has since cancelled two interviews with ZDNet News and has failed to respond to calls. Yahoo! has consistently refused to send details of its plans to tackle paedophiles using its services.
ZDNet will publish a Special ZDNet Investigates into paedophile use of the Internet later this month
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