Google has been praised by child protection organisations for two initiatives it hopes will make it easier to eradicate child pornography from the web, reports UK newspaper The Telegraph.

Google’s initiatives take two forms. First, the creation of an image-flagging database accessible to all tech companies, so that any image identified as child sexual abuse can be blocked across the web. Second, a $2m fund available to software developers to create tools to combat the problem.

John Carr, a government adviser on child internet safety, said: “Google have stepped up. No one can argue about that. In all my time working in this space no company has ever devoted anything like this level of resources to working with civil society organisations to attack online child abuse images.”

Susie Hargreaves, chief executive officer of the Internet Watch Foundation, which is part-funded by Google, said: “This announcement is inspiring for those who are at the forefront of tackling child sexual abuse content. We know that the best way to tackle what is some of the most horrific content online is by working with others from all over the world to combat this on a global platform.” … 

Although organisations like the IWF work to identify abusive images, and Google acts promptly to block those from its search results, there is no industry-wide standard for allowing other companies to detect those images. What Google is working on, and hopes to have in place within a year, is a database that any ISP, search-engine or law enforcement agency can access to identify and block the images.

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said: “Since 2008, we have used ‘hashing’ technology to tag known child sexual abuse images, allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere.

“Each offending image in effect gets a unique fingerprint that our computers can recognize without humans having to view them again.

“Recently, we have started working to incorporate these fingerprints into a cross-industry database. This will enable companies, law enforcement, and charities to better collaborate on detecting and removing child abuse images.”

(Via techmeme.)

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