Microsoft Tackles the Child Pornography Problem

The Internet is a hyper-efficient distribution channel for media of all kinds. So it is hardly surprising, even if disturbing, that the march of the Net has also brought “an explosion in the spread of child pornography,” as Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, put it.The nonprofit center assists law-enforcement authorities by culling through 250,000 images a week, looking for illegal material, and sends daily alerts to 68 Internet service providers worldwide. It is difficult, labor-intensive work for all. But Microsoft on Wednesday is contributing new image-matching software, PhotoDNA, that promises to automate and streamline online child-pornography monitoring. “It’s a terrific tool for us, law enforcement and I.S.P.s,” Mr. Allen said.

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