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ISPs team up to take on child porn
Published: 2006-06-27

Five major Internet service providers announced on Tuesday that they have banded together to develop technological measures for detecting users who deal in child pornography.

The companies have pledged a combined $1 million in initial funding to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to create the Technology Coalition within the non-profit organization. The group--which includes AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft, EarthLink and United Online--will research and develop technological tools to combat child pornography, establish a database of signature of illegal images, develop better law enforcement tools, and investigate the tactics of child pornographers and people who exchange images.

"These leading companies have a wealth of expertise and technological tools that can help protect children and reduce the proliferation of sexually abusive images of children," Ernie Allen, CEO of NCMEC, said in a statement. "Similar tools have been used to protect users from other Internet-related threats, such as spam, phishing and viruses. Now they can also be applied to this fight against child pornographers.”

The companies announced the creation of the coalition on the same day that the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce planned to hold a hearing on keeping the Internet safe for children. Executives from four of the coalition companies will be testifying at the hearing. Legislators have proposed bills that would force Internet service providers to retain data on their users, a requirement that would be costly to implement for ISPs.

Law enforcement and children's organization have mounted stronger assaults on the online trade of pornographic images of children. Even hackers--and the occasional serendipitous virus--have used their skills to hunt down and report pedophiles. However, some investigations have allegedly led to false accusations, which have proved devastating to those accused.

The coalition will meet for the first time in July to draft a charter and create a timeline for developing tools.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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