Google software scans videos for child porn

Google is employing the same technology it uses to track down copyrighted videos on YouTube to help police identify child pornography videos.

The company has developed the digital fingerprinting software for the US National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), to help it automatically sift through the millions of potentially illegal videos sent to its tip-off site. “NCMEC analysts have reviewed more than 13 million child pornography images and videos to assist law enforcement agencies working to identify and rescue children,” research scientist, Shumeet Baluja claims on the Google blog.

“This task has been time-consuming, and NCMEC analysts were simply getting overwhelmed by all of the data they had to sift through.”

Baluja says that he and some of his colleagues used the 20% of worktime Google famously allows employees to work on their own projects to develop the software. “I recruited some fellow engineers to help me build tools that NCMEC might find useful,” he says. “Throughout 2007, using our 20% time, we created innovative software tools to help NCMEC track down child predators through video and image search.

“With these tools, analysts will be able to more quickly and easily search NCMEC’s large information systems to sort and identify files that contain images of child pornography. In addition, a new video tool we built streamlines analysts’ review of video snippets.”

Baluja claims that helping the NCMEC to organise the video library is as useful as identify the images of abuse. “The keys here were organisation, scalability, and search,” he says. “In particular, the tools we provided will aid in organising and indexing NCMEC’s information so that analysts can both deal with new images and videos more efficiently and also reference historical material more effectively.

“We hope the tools we’ve built for NCMEC will help its analysts make the important and often time-sensitive work of investigating child predators faster and more efficient.”

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