June 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM ET
Internet giant Google announced plans Saturday to build a database of encrypted child pornography images to “enable companies, law enforcement and charities to better collaborate on detecting and removing these images, and to take action against the criminals" producing and sharing them.
Google is developing the database to be shared with other tech and Internet companies to extend the reach of its newfound anti-child pornography efforts. While tech companies (like Google) individually take action against child pornography, Google's plan is to help all relevant organizations streamline their efforts work by allowing all of them to contribute to the same database and build on one another's work rather than repeating it.
"We're in the business of making information widely available, but there's certain 'information' that should never be created or found," Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google Giving, wrote in a blog post announcing Google's new initiative. "We can do a lot to ensure it's not available online — and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted."
To better locate the offending content, Google is using a pre-existing technology known as "hashing," which essentially allows the company to tag images with unique identification codes that can then be reported or blocked by other companies when locating a duplicate image somewhere else on the social Web.
Google's announcement came less than a week about prominent British politicians such as Prime Minister David Cameron urged tech companies to use their "extraordinary technical abilities" to curb what they described as the current proliferation of Internet child pornography.
Google said that it plans to have the entire database up and running in a year. Along with the new database, the company also announced on Saturday that it is donating $5 million to global child protection organizations, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Internet Watch Foundation. Google also announced a $2 million Child Protection Technology Fund to help combat child pornography's presence online.