Major ISPs Commit Money And Expertise To Fight Child Porn - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Major ISPs Commit Money And Expertise To Fight Child Porn

They'll work with the National Center for Missing And Exploited Children to stop the transmission of child porn across the Internet.

A group of major ISPs, under pressure from lawmakers to play a more active role in the fight against the transmission of child pornography over the Internet, last week vowed to commit funds and technical expertise to help solve the problem.

AOL, EarthLink, Microsoft, United Online, and Yahoo are contributing a total of $1 million to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and providing the group with technical expertise aimed at stopping the transmission of child porn across the Internet. "They're going to put their best and brightest on this," says Ernie Allen, the center's president and CEO.

Allen is counting on Google to join the fight

Allen is counting on Google to join the fight

Photo by Jay Talbott/Scripps Howard News Service
Among other things, Allen hopes the tech companies will help the Virginia center build and host a database of images and files known to contain child pornography. Files transmitted by ISPs would then be routinely checked against those in the database and matches would be flagged. Allen says such a system could be operational within a year.

The plan could draw heat from privacy advocates. And there's no guarantee that the technology would be able to tell the difference between an illegal image, a classic work of art, or an innocent photo of a newborn child sent by a proud parent to a grandparent. "The development of this technology has to be done carefully and with sensitivity," Allen says. It's too early to predict "exactly what this coalition is going to produce."

Under federal law, ISPs already are obliged to report suspected transmissions of child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for follow-up. Last week, some lawmakers said the industry needs to do more or face tougher regulation. "The parents of America and I think the Congress are tired of just talking about it. I think we're ready to take action," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, during congressional hearings that focused on ways to make the Internet safer for children. Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield, who chaired the hearings, called the Internet "a Sears catalog for pedophiles."

Some lawmakers suggested legislation to require ISPs to maintain customer records for a defined period, making them more readily available to anti-porn investigators and prosecutors. There are no current laws that require ISPs to keep records of their customers' online activity.

Where's Google?

Google is noticeably absent from the group of Internet companies pledging support, and committee members charged that the search company is complacent when it comes to tackling child pornography. "There's an appearance that Google isn't as cooperative or vigilant," said Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss.

But don't count Google out, Allen says. "They want to know a little more detail about what the expectations are and assess exactly what they can bring to the table." He met last week with Google associate general counsel Nicole Wong and is confident the company eventually will come on board. "They made it clear they'll help us in this effort," he says. Wong also testified at last week's hearings. Google officials weren't available for comment.

State legislatures around the country also are weighing laws that would require tech companies and IT pros to play a more active role in catching child pornographers and their customers. Last week, however, Pennsylvania legislators killed a bill that would have made it mandatory for computer technicians in the state to notify authorities if they find child pornography on systems under their care.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Edge Computing
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  10/15/2019
News
Rethinking IT: Tech Investments that Drive Business Growth
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/3/2019
Slideshows
IT Careers: 12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/1/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll