Google plans to wipe child porn from the Web

The search giant is creating a database of images depicting child exploitation -- to be shared with tech companies, law enforcement, and charities -- in order to scrub the images from the Internet.

Photos and videos of child pornography on the Web have multiplied at an alarming rate over the past few years. In 2011, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it received 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse, which is four times more than 2007.

Google has announced that it wants to help curb this proliferation of child pornography. In fact, the Web giant plans to take it even a step further -- it wants to completely eradicate child porn from the Internet.

"Behind these images are real, vulnerable kids who are sexually victimized and victimized further through the distribution of their images," Google Giving director Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post on Saturday. "It is critical that we take action as a community -- as concerned parents, guardians, teachers and companies -- to help combat this problem."

Google's plan is to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and charities around the world. The database will let these groups swap information, collaborate, and remove the images from the Web.

Part of the technology behind this database comes from a technique Google already uses called "hashing," which tags images showing sexual abuse of children with a unique identification code. Computers can recognize the code and then locate, block, and report all duplicate images on the Web. Google plans to have the database up and running within a year.

Google has been working against child pornography since 2006 when it teamed up with other tech companies and joined the Technology Coalition, which looks at how technology can be used to end child exploitation. It has also donated millions to nonprofit organizations that work for the cause.

Other tech companies have also been active in battling child pornography on the Web. Microsoft helped develop the hashing technology for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's PhotoDNA program and Facebook uses the technology across its network to ensure child pornography is not circulating through the site.

In addition to the upcoming database, Google also announced Saturday that it is donating $5 million to fight child pornography. The money will be split up between global child protection organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Internet Watch Foundation, and Google's own Child Protection Technology Fund.

"We're in the business of making information widely available, but there's certain 'information' that should never be created or found," Fuller wrote. "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."

 

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