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Google pledges to rid the web of child pornography

Categories: Community, Science & Technology

si_google_child_porn_istock.jpgIf any one company could conceivably stop the sexual exploitation of children online, Google would be a likely contender - but not even the web's most ubiquitous search engine can tackle such a widespread problem without help.

So, in an effort to help clear the web of child pornography and abuse footage, the search and mobile juggernaut is sharing its data, resources and technological expertise across international borders to the tune of $5 million dollars.

This announcement comes just days after British Prime Minister David Cameron called upon the company and other search giants to crack down on the proliferation of these "disgusting images."

"Since 2008, we've used 'hashing' technology to tag known child sexual abuse images, allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere," wrote Google's Jacqueline Fuller in a blog post Saturday.

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

These encrypted image "fingerprints" are being compiled into a massive, cross-industry database that is expected to be operational within one year according to the Telegraph.

With access to this database, researchers, tech. companies and law enforcement officials will be better able to collaborate on identifying and removing child sexual-abuse images, as well as sniffing out criminals.

Google is pledging $2 million to its new Child Protection Technology Fund in an effort to develop these tools further, while additional support will go toward the protection of children around the world.

"Child sexual exploitation is a global problem that needs a global solution," wrote Fuller. "With this in mind, we need to sustain and encourage borderless communication between organizations fighting this problem on the ground."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the U.S. received 17.3 million suspect images through their cyber tip line in 2011 alone, with more than half of them coming from countries outside of the U.S., like Canada.

"We're in the business of making information widely available, but there's certain 'information' that should never be created or found," Fuller concluded in her post. "We can do a lot to ensure it's not available online -- and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted."

While many are applauding Google for its efforts, others say that $5 million dollars won't go far in combating such a rampant problem.

"Google's program is a strong step in making it harder to find child pornography on the Internet," wrote ReadWrite's Brian Proffitt Monday.

"But sources that are known by purveyors of this content will still be available to provide material that exploits children. All the search engines are doing is making it harder for new searchers for this content to locate such content."

Tags: Technology

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