A team of Google researchers led by Shumeet Baluja used the free time the company provides employees to work on pet projects to develop software tools tailored to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children track down child predators. Google is a member of the organization's Technology Coalition Against Child Pornography.
To date, NCMEC analysts have reviewed more than 13 million child pornography images and video in helping law enforcement identify and rescue children, Baluja said in a blog post on Google. With such a large volume of data, NCMEC analysts had been overwhelmed by what was being sent to them each week from their CyberTipline and from police investigators nationwide.
The tools developed by Google researchers helps NCMEC workers sort and identify files that contain child pornography. In addition, the new video tool streamlines analysts' review of video snippets, Baluja said. "In particular, the tools we provided will aid in organizing and indexing NCMEC's information, so that analysts can both deal with new images and videos more efficiently and also reference historical material more effectively."
In organizing the data more efficiently, analysts will be able to work faster in getting law enforcement the information they need to locate missing children and find child sex predators, the researcher said.
"You always hope that your work will eventually be used to do some good in the world, and this was an amazing chance to make that hope real by creating tools that have the potential to aid investigations of child predators, find child victims, and reduce the flow of child pornography on the Internet," Baluja said.
The latest report from the Internet Watch foundation shows that in 2006, 50% of Internet images showing sexual abuse of children were traced to the United States. The report also showed that the severity of online child abuse content is increasing.