The Internet has plenty of dark corners, but one of the darkest is surely the growing number of sites that traffic in child pornography. Google, which has no interest in surfacing any of these sites and images, has long worked with numerous nonprofit organizations and law enforcement agencies to help protect children online and keep these sites out of its index. The company has, however, recently been criticized by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and others for not doing enough to fight child pornography online.
Today, Google pledged $5 million to the fight. It will distribute this money to a number of organizations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Latin America. Among the organizations that will receive these funds are groups like the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the U.K.’s Internet Watch Foundation. Google has also set up a $2 million Child Protection Technology Fund to “encourage the development of ever more effective tools.”
Since 2008, Google has been tagging the child abuse images it detected in its index and those that were reported to organisations like the NCMEC to ensure that it could also identify any copy of these files.
In today’s announcement, Google revealed that it has recently started to add this information to a cross-industry database that it shares with law enforcement agencies and charities. This, Google believes, will allow these organizations to “better collaborate on detecting and removing these images.”
Later this week, representatives from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and a number of telecom firms will also meet with the U.K. Culture Secretary to discuss this issue.
It’s worth noting that Google is obviously not the only search company that is working to combat child pornography online. Microsoft has a similar initiative, and the company also tags images of child abuse it finds using its PhotoDNA technology. Facebook started licensing PhotoDNA from Microsoft in 2011. The company has also been working with a number of law enforcement agencies to develop the Child Exploitation Tracking System.