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Google, Facebook And Twitter Aid The Crackdown On Child Porn

Internet majors such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter have started using the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) database of known child sex abuse images to automatically block child porn on the Internet.

The list, known as “hash list”, is made up of images that have been analysed by experts who assign a digital fingerprint (known as hash value) – a code that is generated by running the image through an algorithm.

Any copies of the file will produce the same hash value so if anyone tries sharing them on Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter, the companies can detect them and then block them from being shared.

The technology that analyses and assigns hash values to images has been developed by Google and is now shared with the Internet community. The IWF has also said that all members will be able to access the list and add images if child sex abuse.

The system is similar to what Google, Dropbox and other use to identify copyright-protected content and block it from being shared with others. Using the system also means these companies can block child sex abuse images from being uploaded onto the Internet in the first place.

Recently, the Indian government issued a ban on 800 odd pornography websites which was then partially lifted on the premise that only sites serving child porn would remain blocked. The need for better methods to tackle the spread of child sex abuse images became apparent.

The IWF claims that it removes around 500 web addresses containing child sex abuse images per day, with each one containing upwards of thousand images.

However, there are a few drawbacks. The hash list contains only values of images that have been identified by the IWF and it’s also possible to change the hash value by altering the file in some way.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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