June 27, 2006 5:48 AM PDT

Net companies pledge child porn crackdown

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The system works like this: When AOL employees become aware of a child pornography image included as an e-mail attachment, they forward the attachment and information about the sender's geographic location to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which in turn sends it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. AOL also generates a digital fingerprint of the image so it can be automatically flagged if it flows through the company's network in the future.

ISP snooping timeline

In events that were first reported by CNET News.com, Bush administration officials have said Internet providers must keep track of what Americans are doing online. Here's the timeline:

June 2005: Justice Department officials quietly propose data retention rules.

December 2005: European Parliament votes for data retention of up to two years.

April 14, 2006: Data retention proposals surface in Colorado and the U.S. Congress.

April 20, 2006: Attorney General Gonzales says data retention "must be addressed."

April 28, 2006: Rep. DeGette proposes data retention amendment.

May 16, 2006: Rep. Sensenbrenner drafts data retention legislation -- but backs away from it two days later.

May 26, 2006: Gonzales and FBI Director Mueller meet with Internet and telecommunications companies.

Other Internet and e-mail providers could adopt the same approach. That would create a "master list of bad sites or files, or in this case signatures, that all partners can use it to escalate the fight" against child pornography, Weinstein said on Monday.

In the future, "we can look at things like instant messaging and video files and how you track those," he said.

Using hash functions to detect unwanted files is hardly new. Researchers at Brooklyn's Polytechnic University have described (click for PDF), for instance, how fingerprints could detect "pollution" on peer-to-peer networks performed by copyright holders intentionally trying to distribute corrupted files. Italian computer scientists have proposed (click for PDF) using hash functions to identify and discard junk e-mail. One open-source project that does that is called Nilsimsa.

Seth Schoen, staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital rights group in San Francisco, expressed concern that even legal content could end up on the national blacklist of hashed fingerprints.

"There's a question about whether people would want to add things other than child pornography to the list," Schoen said. "Is there any way to prevent people from simply suppressing nonchild-pornography-related (images) by claiming they're child pornography?"

Another possibility, Schoen said, is that child pornographers who know how the system works would simply make a tiny tweak to photographs to avoid detection--rendering the hash detection system useless. Internet providers could counter-attack using a "locality sensitive hash" function that's designed to detect similar files, but even that in turn could be foiled if image files are encrypted.

Industry representatives readily acknowledge that technical discussions are only beginning. "Hopefully this will help highlight the issue and help highlight some potential solutions that haven't been considered yet," said Randall, United Online's general counsel.

Officials from EarthLink, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, AOL, Verizon and Comcast are scheduled to testify on Tuesday. The second day of the hearing, on Wednesday, is scheduled to include representatives of Facebook.com, MySpace.com parent company Fox Interactive Media, and Xanga.com.

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32 comments

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Yahoo and Google should just stop linking to child porn sites
Yahoo and Google should just stop linking to child porn sites. They are making money from crimes against children. If you doubt this, do a search for "incest" if you have the stomach for it. But what do you expect? Their motos should be "Do as much evil as possible." How else do you explain how they prostituted themselves to the Communist Chinese and helped oppress a 1.2 billion people? And how else do you explain their lack of cooperation with the U.S. government?
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are extremely uninformed
How does one stop linking to a site? There are
millions of web addresses that are very dynanmic and
can change their address in a moments notice. There
aren't enough resources on this planet to filter
all objectionable material. And once you start, who
exactly would define objectioable sites? You,
perhaps George?

Your second point is extremely ill informed. If you
give a billion people access to information they
had no access to before, how are you oppressing
them? By the same logic that you cannot filter
all pornographic material, you cannot filter all
political material as well. Google has, by its
very nature, provided the Chinese people more
information then they would have otherwise. If you
think otherwise then you are a fool.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
RE
"Yahoo and Google should just stop linking to child porn sites."

How do you propose they detect these sites hmm? It's easy to say what should happen, it quite another matter to come up with an actual come up with a solution. Google and Yahoo index billions of websites and there isn't a reliable automated way to scan for these sites. A human being going over them is the only sure way but due to the number of sites index (with more being added all the time) it would be impossible for them to clean the entire database of these search engines.


"They are making money from crimes against children. If you doubt this, do a search for "incest" if you have the stomach for it."

Incest is not necessarly a crime against a child. What proof do you have the people on these sites are actually related? Porn sites aren't above lying to attract vistors. At least as far as Google goes, no ads are displayed when you search for incest.

"How else do you explain how they prostituted themselves to the Communist Chinese and helped oppress a 1.2 billion people?"

As far as Google goes they only censor their search results. If these didn't they be blocked as far as access to information they don't make a big difference. My understanding is Google doesn't offer Gmail or Blogger in China and their servers are located outside China and thus unavailable to the Chinese government. Since the servers are located outsided of China (mostly in the U.S) there is a legal process the Chinese government must go through if the want records.

"And how else do you explain their lack of cooperation with the U.S. government?"

the U.S governments request was not based on any any need by law enforcement but rather the collection of sample data to help the government defend COPA in court. In the U.S there is a system for challenging such requests. The governments inital request was large and as the judge in Google's challenge pointed out would have set a bad precident if allowed.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Your post is very slanted I think
Google did open up shop in China, but unlike the other IT firms they got the China government to allow them to say if a page was censored. That is the Government gave them a list to censor. It is thier federal laws, this is un avoidable, but google was able to tell the customers that this page has been censored instead of just a blank page like every other search engine.

This in its self is a step forward from censorship and Google should be applauded for taking this step. Incest sites do not mean child porn sites. How is google linking to child porn? The company motto is "do no evil."

I am a republican, but I find your views extreme right and un-informed. Before you go off on the net you should have your facts straight. Personaly if a web site opperator is found to be running child porn, Truely child porn I say they are an oxegen thief. But in making laws about this we need to be careful. Many laws have far reaching consequences.

You will no doubt dissagree with me, but this administration has steped a bit out of line. Secretly monitoring US citezen phone calls.(If they have nothing to hide why hide it?). Secretly requesting the search records(only Google opposed them.) I say Good. Checks and balances are needed. History teaches time and again, if un-checked a government will become tyranical. We are different WHY?

What makes our government so special we should not question it? Be fore you answer, China dosen't think thier people should question them either. The USSR didn't like people with different views either. We can messure freedom with the ability to argue with our government. Otherwise, what would you use?
Posted by Central_office_tech (49 comments )
Link Flag
child porn links
ok granted, the govt cant control everything on the internet. However, if we can have sky bots over California, microchipped cattle, drivers licenses and pre paid cell phones, there must be a better way to tighten down on child porn. Anyone who protests for any reason or rationale is simply a predator themselves, period. Why in the HELL else would anyone argue? Just proves what a sick world we live in. If we are going to regulate our farm animals, cell phones and licenses, dont even tell me we cant crack down on links that focus on preying on our children. Its just too easy for the sick to get sicker. Gun control, my ASS!!!
Posted by prisma1967 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Welcome to 1984, everybody!!!
Oh, boy, looks like the far right conservatives had really latched onto this new meme of abusing power "for the children." Once, they used another meme, terrorsits, to envoke people's emotions and to ram through bad legislation an dpolicies, but they can now see that dog don't hunt no more, so now they have to come up with another "boogeyman" to justify more abuse of power and encroachment on privacy. Here, they found it. They are exploiting children by using them as an agruement for power grabs.

Yes, some responcibilty of abuse of power should also be on the ISPs, but I feel more that they are doing what they can to stave off data retention laws, the SOBing congress is forcing/tipping their hand to do this.

I can see so much possibilites of abuse of these new policies. AOL or any ISP shouldn't be scanning my e-mails for ANY purpose. At least with virus scanning, you the end-user can turn that off, can you turn this off? They are not analogous, then.

What if people get sent these images by people unsolicted? What if someone in a foreign country with a beef with a CNET editor, for example, in a country that doesn't do this, so therefore they don't get caught, sends an e-mail to a CNET editor's email address, and that editor uses AOL, AOL scans the e-mail, the hash checks determine their is child porn it in, and before you know it, the swat team are rushing on that CNET editor house for recieving an e-mail he didn't want it the first place and had nothing to do with. See, this is making ANYONE who enounters child porn in any way, including by accident, guilty of be a child pred. This is a violation of the Fourth and Fifth amendments. This really is not much different than the abuses that could come from Gonzales's data retention and could even be worse, and has me again rethinking if I'll continue to use the internet at all, and more specifically, my POS ISP.

And like the guy from EFF pointed out, what to stop them from stopping traffic of legit porn?

What's to stop them from giving info to the RIAA and MPAA and creating hash checks for P2Ps?

The answer... nothing. The internet is dead, my friends.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Welcome to 1984, everybody!!!
Have you read your ISP's TOS? Here are some examples from Time Warner:

"Operator and its Affiliated ISPs maintain personally identifiable information about subscribers for as long as it is necessary for business purposes. This period of time lasts as long as you are a subscriber and up to fifteen additional years"

"Operator's system, in delivering and routing the ISP Services, and the systems of Operator's Affiliated ISPs, may automatically log information concerning Internet addresses you contact, and the duration of your visits to such addresses"

Alot of ISPs already scan your e-mail at their gateways (incoming and outgoing) for viruses and if the header matches spam blacklists.
Posted by kaufmanmoore (42 comments )
Link Flag
Welcome to 1984, everybody!!
Oh, boy, looks like the far right conservatives had really latched onto this new meme of abusing power "for the children." Once, they used another meme, terrorsits, to envoke people's emotions and to ram through bad legislation an dpolicies, but they can now see that dog don't hunt no more, so now they have to come up with another "boogeyman" to justify more abuse of power and encroachment on privacy. Here, they found it. They are exploiting children by using them as an agruement for power grabs.

Yes, some responcibilty of abuse of power should also be on the ISPs, but I feel more that they are doing what they can to stave off data retention laws, the SOBing congress is forcing/tipping their hand to do this.

I can see so much possibilites of abuse of these new policies. AOL or any ISP shouldn't be scanning my e-mails for ANY purpose. At least with virus scanning, you the end-user can turn that off, can you turn this off? They are not analogous, then.

What if people get sent these images by people unsolicted? What if someone in a foreign country with a beef with a CNET editor, for example, in a country that doesn't do this, so therefore they don't get caught, sends an e-mail to a CNET editor's email address, and that editor uses AOL, AOL scans the e-mail, the hash checks determine their is child porn it in, and before you know it, the swat team are rushing on that CNET editor house for recieving an e-mail he didn't want it the first place and had nothing to do with. See, this is making ANYONE who enounters child porn in any way, including by accident, guilty of be a child pred. This is a violation of the Fourth and Fifth amendments. This really is not much different than the abuses that could come from Gonzales's data retention and could even be worse, and has me again rethinking if I'll continue to use the internet at all, and more specifically, my POS ISP.

And like the guy from EFF pointed out, what to stop them from stopping traffic of legit porn?

What's to stop them from giving info to the RIAA and MPAA and creating hash checks for P2Ps?

The answer... nothing. The internet is dead, my friends.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Child Porn - the new Boogie Man
First it was Communism. Than it was Terrorism. Now it's Child Porn. Somehow the McCarthy's of the world keep finding excuses to invade your privacy and restrict your freedom.

Did anybody ever bothered to do a study of this "pervasive" child porn problem? Like how many convictions of child porn that actually occured? Or is this one of those mystical "everybody knows" thingie?
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly.
Next week, it'll be who knows... actually, they probably don't need anything lese, once you envoke children to get what you want, game over.

It's one on those conversational enders, those things they purposely do to make you stop responding and dissenteing, using arguements like, "why, you can't possibly be against this, unless you're a child predator!"

We see this illogical thinking here in this very thread. People attacking people and making character assassinations just becuase they want this power grab. THese people are the sick people envoking children to get legislation or policies they want. They are the ones exploiting children.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
whats your so called solution to child porn then
last time i checked its against the law..liberals got million excuses why porn should be around like it hurts no one or women dont get use so on and so forth...first of all porn isnt communism let along child porn..
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
Link Flag
Google hiding under their desks
Google has a soft-spot in their heart for child pornographers. As do many on the left.

At least this shows them for who they really are.

I don't buy the argument that you have to let child porn be available otherwise its 1984. That is a sick definition of freedom. The constitution is not a suicide pact, and it is not a protector of child pornographers.
Posted by gerhard_schroeder (311 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WTF?!?! That is SOOO slanderous and offensive!
This shows what you right-wing fundies really are.

Clueless. Vicious. Full of venom and attackful.

I don't buy the premise that you wipe your keyster with the constitution just to purportedly defend against "terrorism" and "child predators". That is the sick definiton of freedom. Constitution holds precedent.

What part of "we have laws against child porn/child predators" do you not understand?
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
RE
"Google has a soft-spot in their heart for child pornographers."

On what do you base that slanderous assertion on?


"As do many on the left."

Same question as above. You might want to look up the republicans who have been caught having sex with minors or owning childporn as there is surprising number of them. It appears the right has a soft spot for childporn as well.


"I don't buy the argument that you have to let child porn be available otherwise its 1984."

It depends on how you go after it. If they use the method employed in PA to block child porn websites then lots of legit sites will also be blocked (which is the reason it was found unconstitutional). Nor can they treat everyone like a criminal by invading their privacy on the off chance they may have child porn. Lets not forget hashing algorithms are subject to collisons (false positives) and even the most rudimentary encryption algorithm could foil the use of hashes. The RIAA wanted ISPs etc to implement similar filters to stop the filesharing of music. When the RIAA asked congress to step in on the issue the response was that such a method would be ineffective along with turing ISPs in to copyright Cops.


"The constitution is not a suicide pact, and it is not a protector of child pornographers."

No but it does protect the innocent from unreasonable measures. It is not reasonable (at least it's not suppose to be) to suggest that everyone be placed under surveillance to stop child porn.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
You do realize that ....
You do realize that you're a complete moron...don't you?
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Link Flag
While we are at it...
Lets look for people who post about guns or tax evasion. Next we can start looking for people who hold extremist religious views (By my definition not yours). Once you start looking under peoples beads without a warrant, you open up a door.

This will cost ISPs a ridiculous amount of money, and do nothing. One little SSL certificate will make this system useless. The cost of implementing this useless system will still make your Internet bill go way up.

Think of this as a tax increase to fund pork.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
warrantless search and seizure
You don't have to love child porn to hate warrantless search and seizure. When looking under peoples beads does nothing to stop child porn, terrorism, gun ownership or tax evasion it becomes more than just an immoral breach of our constitutional right to privacy, it becomes silly. Anyone with an IQ above 60 can get past this.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Looks like they we have voluntary data retention.
According to Earthlink, they will be storing IP info for seven years on carts.

The Houses's website has a link for streaming video.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What if your image matches the hash? What if they encrypt files?
And you are not guilty? YOu have to prove your innocence or because the hash matches you are guilty?

What file formats? JPEG/GIF/TIFF/BMP? any other obscure ones?

What if they encrypt their files? How can the HASH ever match.
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
love of child porn?
"In internet and phone chats with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, a Department of Homeland Security press aide talked about underage sex, boasted about his job and called President Bush a "liar," according to transcripts released by prosecutors on June 16.

Brian Doyle, 56, of Silver Spring, MD, resigned from his job shortly after his Apr. 4 arrest on charges of trying to solicit sex with an underage child. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $230,000 bond. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to life in prison.


Anyone remember that story?

Remember these things when you go and say the "Left" has a love of child pornographers, thanks.
Posted by russ b (5 comments )
Link Flag
If you match, it will set a flag, and a person will check it.
The hash is just the first stage. If the hash matches they will take a closer look at the file. A hash match by its self will not put you in jail.

Yes, you are right, just change one pixel or use SSL, an anonymizer or something like freenet and hash checking is useless. This will cost us all losts of money, but doo nothing to stop child porn.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
how is hash checking really going to work?
they get a picture and record it's hash in a datebase. If one bit gets changed it's entirely a new hash and that can happen just by file getting curpted in the transfer that happens all the time. When you open and just resave a file without making any changes you get a all new hash value.
Posted by paper28 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
MD5 makes mistakes
It's known that different files can yield the same MD5 sum. There's even a program out there that can voluntarily generate multiple files with a given MD5 sum. I'll be really happy when I find out that I'm being jailed because my letter to Aunt Martha was MD5-identical to a picture of a kid suspended to a tree by his genitalia.
Posted by spl68 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Silly analogy
Well thats just a silly and worthless analogy because everything can be tracked down to the minute detail and proven. Even instant messages. So keep writing to Aunt Martha, as long as she isnt in the Philipines heh.
Posted by prisma1967 (2 comments )
Link Flag
If AOL really wanted to prevent Child Porn, they would warn their members of the consequences. I certainly had no idea there were mandatory sentences involved when I traded with an FBI agent sitting in an AOL chatroom. Had I known, I can assure you I would have never done such a thing. I believed by trading for old images, that you were not really doing anything harmful, and the FBI only wanted those in Porn Rings or those that paid for images. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, and AOL is mostly to blame. Even the smallest of items carry warning labels, but something that can get you 10 years or more in jail is not even addressed by them. Cowards.
Posted by Screwedin615 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
someone used one of the new child porn government crackdown sites as a sort of virus. they linked me there without saying anything about it, and now my ip and mac address are being tracked! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THIS IS A JOKE OR IF I AM GOING TO JAIL FOR NOTHING!!!
My name is Adam, and I am 13. PLEASE RESPOND!
Email: Adamant890@hotmail.com
Posted by AdamLe (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Surely it is the responsibility of the internet companies to prohibit such things as extreme pornography ,is the reason why they are so reluctant to do with how much revenue they collect directly or indirectly from such gutter sites
Posted by craigdavis1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Witch hunt.
Posted by longspur (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am not an advocate of child porn but I fail to see the point in procecuting the end user. It needs to be stopped at the source along with other human trafficing. It just does not seem to benefit anyone to severly punish anyone mearly for viewing and possession. Usually they trump up a 'distribution' charge to insure conviction but the fact is many people are serving time without any reduction in the real problems. The police know that this type of crime is relatively easy to convict since it is comitted by nonviolent people who are embarassed by the publicity and many are plea barginned. Its also a very popular crime to go after for political gains. While many of the police, prosecutors, and judges are some of the worst offenders.
Posted by longspur (2 comments )
Link Flag
 

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