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ACSOL’s Online EPIC Conference: Empowered People Inspiring Change Sept 17-18, 2021

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Google, Facebook, Twitter join crackdown on child porn

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo will be among the first technology companies to use the Internet Watch Foundation’s “hash list” to identify and remove child abuse images uploaded to their services, the British anti-abuse organization announced Monday.

Not to be confused with a hashtag, a hash is a string of code that can serve as the digital fingerprint of an image. Sharing the list of fingerprints with Internet companies will allow victims’ images to be identified and removed more quickly, preventing them from being repeatedly shared. Full Article

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Now this could be a positive advance and policy that might actually achieve the intended purpose without violating peoples rights. If its not abused in ways that are unintended which I don’t see how it could be.

While this is a good idea as a stand alone idea I’m equally positive it’s a bad idea. Why is that you wonder? It’s because historically this is the sort of thing that people can’t resist abusing far beyond it’s stated and intended purpose. I think this is the only censorship I would agree with; but I’m very sure that the thought police will rationalize a myriad of ways to abuse this to censor many other things. And we probably won’t find out about that until the next brave whistle blower comes along.

I am afraid you are right.

Since 1999 I’ve operated hosting businesses and operated a couple of Internet Service Providers. As a software developer and system administrator (i wear many hats), we use hashes to help us determine if a file is the one we expect, or if it has been modified in some way. I find it fascinating that this technology wasn’t been applied in this way a very long time ago. We use this technology already to help us locate potential viruses on our systems and in our networks.

Doesn’t de-duplication technology work similarly? The program looks at the first and last few lines of code. If they are the same, all but one copy is deleted.

That is not a good solution for binary files like images and videos. Hash checking is the best method we have depending which algorithm is used. Md5 is weak but sha1 is much less exploitable. A single pixel color change on an image will render a new hash. However, it is possible to scan images for skin tone colors and flag for review. Facial recognition can also detect faces even if it cannot identify. I wonder how much tax payers pay for the tools that are already available as open source. I already build tools like facial and voice recognition… Read more »

Actually, they have been in use by Google for at least 8 years now. I remember a case in 2007 that involved using the hash of photographs to identify them on Peer to peer (torrent) networks. In addition, there have been convictions resulting from Google identifying the hash features of a file someone uploaded to their Google Drive.

So they’ve been doing it some time. This is just the first MAJOR announcement of their process, since the technology is already in place from the years of experience.

Seems like a good idea, but it is not. File hashes can be easily manipulated by someone who knows what they are doing. This includes creating images that will produce the same hash value with the images being different. Also whose definition of child pornography is being used? What if certain hash lists have less hashes than others?

For every image these sites remove, another five are uploaded by teenagers with a PC or Smartphone, high speed internet/WiFI and a locking bedroom door while their parents are in the living room staring at their own Facebook accounts wondering why their high school sweetheart from twenty years ago has not liked their update about sneezing yesterday. I suppose they need to make an effort to show they are making an effort. If these sites truly wanted to protect kids, they would ban them from using their services. But that would cost money, and when it comes to choosing between… Read more »

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