At a time when the debate around online child pornography is topping the country’s list, Internet giants – Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter – have joined hands to implement a system that will help in detecting and blocking images of child pornography online.
To help put the system in place, the companies are working with a UK-based charitable foundation, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) that has introduced a new technology enabling it to tag images of sexual abuse with distinct hashes – essentially codes that act like a digital fingerprint.
The hash is generated by an algorithm; once assigned to an image, it’s unique to it, making it easy to identify a specific image against a list of offending hashes. The IWF keeps a record of all the hashes, which it has only shared with the five tech companies so far, but plans to roll out to other IWF members soon, The Verge reports.
How will the system work?
If implemented, the system will scan any image that is uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, or any other participating website. If the image has previously been tagged by the IWF, the system will detect its hash and automatically prevent it from being uploaded, and thus from being shared, The Verge report explains.
How much child pornographic content will it block?
According to IWF estimates, currently, on a daily basis, it can remove 500 web pages that contain child pornography. However, the count of hash list per image will only increase as more images are identified, The Telegraph reports.
While the advocates of banning child pornographic content might treat it as a welcome step, but the IWF mechanism will not extend presently to the section of Internet where child pornography thrives.
Another limitation is that the system is not equipped to hash list videos of child pornography, thus videos can’t be blocked.
This is not the first time such a liaison to block child pornographic content has taken place. Google has long scanned the images that pass through Gmail for child pornography and had previously committed to working with the IWF.