A new tool will be unleashed on the internet: Microsoft’s PhotoDNA will be scanning the web for child abuse and likewise illegal images. It’s been used in the past by many organizations, but both the price and time have not been accessible to everyone before the latest update.
Previous versions were also very difficult to set up, as it required installation on the company’s main network in order for it to work. However, the new and improved version will be free and will be using a “cloud” type of technology that will make it much simpler to use and will have less demands.
Microsoft has recently updated the software meant to trace and take down numerous amounts of photos featuring child pornography and sexual abuse. The algorithms have been improved as it’s now claimed to be 1000 times faster than its former versions and is swooping across the web every day in order to better cleanse it of illegal pictures.
It has already been in use by large companies such as Facebook and Twitter who could afford the technology in both price and storage space, but the piece of software will be now available for smaller web services and authorities.
It has been used to track down and spot images of child pornography and sexual abuse by the Interpol, the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, along with many other police departments and law enforcement institutions.
The basic of the technology is that PhotoDNA converts an image to greyscale mode and generates an unique, individual signature, or hash, so that once the image is taken down, it may not be uploaded again. Through recognition software, the tool can instantly know if the illegal picture has been tagged before, whether re-edited, manipulated or cropped, and immediately take it down once more.
To fight even harder against child pornography, Microsoft is arming the software with additional features. PhotoDNA not only takes down photos depicting child abuse, but it also blocks the user’s account and sends the user’s detail to law enforcements and proper authorities to take legal measures.
From now on, social media networks and photo sharing websites are welcome to use Microsoft’s tool to help detect and eliminate pictures of sexual abuse, along with tracking down users who commonly share these types of illegal photos.
PhotoDNA is reportedly ready to take on the 720,000 pictures of child pornography uploaded to the internet daily and help cleanse even the darkest parts of the web.
Main researcher, Larry Zitnick at Microsoft, claims that the software will definitely help, but reminds people that the task itself is challenging as well, and it’s like “finding a needle in a haystack”. Though, in all honesty, and for those who have ventured quite a lot on the internet, it’s more like finding the right kind of needle in an entire barn.