Google Combats Child Sex Abuse by Blocking Access to Pictures & Videos

The Internet is awesome, but the fact is that it’s often used for some really bad stuff -- like child pornography. Basically any sicko with a computer and a connection can access some pretty disgusting stuff with a few taps on a keyboard and a click or two.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced on Monday that the company has fine-tuned the search engine to “prevent depraved images and videos from appearing in more than 100,000 different searches.”

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The changes apply to English-speaking countries, but they’re working on expanding it to more than 150 other languages in the next six months to combat the sexual exploitation of children across the globe.

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The search engine has been programmed to recognize 13,000 terms closely linked to child abuse, and when a predator types them, warning signs will flash and links to charities offering help will pop up. They’ve also disabled the autocomplete feature for child abuse search terms.

But even better than that, they’ve developed a tagging system that will remove all copies of an image or video once it’s been identified as illegal.

Mr. Schmidt said:

There's no quick technical fix when it comes to detecting child sexual abuse imagery.

This is because computers can't reliably distinguish between innocent pictures of kids at bathtime and genuine abuse. So we always need to have a person review the images.

Once that is done -- and we know the pictures are illegal -- each image is given a unique digital fingerprint.

This enables our computers to identify those pictures whenever they appear on our systems.

Bravo, Google. It’s nice to see technology being used for good.

Do you think we'll ever completely eradicate child pornography?

 

Image via Gisela Giardino/Flickr

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