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Internet giants team up to fight child porn through shared lists

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 10, 2015
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The world's larger online companies have already been doing quite a lot to combat child porn on their own, but they're now teaming up to fight that sexual abuse across the internet. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo are partnering with the UK's Internet Watch Foundation to share hash lists (aka digital fingerprints) of blocked indecent images. In theory, the move makes sure that a photo pulled on one site doesn't simply pop up elsewhere. All of the IWF's members will eventually use the list, so you could soon see this collective blocking in use at Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and PayPal, among others.

This isn't a magic bullet. The screening only works when offending images are on the list in the first place, and it won't function on the Dark Web and other places where peddlers can trade content in relative secrecy. Still, this could do a lot to prevent child porn distributors from operating on publicly operated sites, even through private sharing -- they'd have to retreat to those darker corners just to operate at all.

[Image credit: Microsoft]

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