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Google offers tools to find victims of child abuse

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The US-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is adopting custom-made Google technology to combat the sexual abuse of children.

Analysts from NCMEC's Child Victim Identification Program (CVIP) have reviewed more than 13m child abuse images and videos as part of their mission to identify and rescue children. To help automate and streamline this process, a team of Google engineers led by Dr. Shumeet Baluja created software tools to help NCMEC track down child predators and victims of child exploitation through video and image search.

The Google technology will enable NCMEC analysts to more quickly and easily search NCMEC's systems, in order to sort and identify files that contain images of child pornography victims. New video tools from Google will streamline analysts' review of video snippets from files seized in child pornography cases.

In addition to developing the custom-made software, Google has also donated a Google Search Appliance, Google Earth Enterprise, and in-kind advertising through Google Grants to further support NCMEC's work. NCMEC is a non-profit organisation which runs a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, called CyberTipline. Since it was established in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 140,900 missing child cases, resulting in the removal from harm of more than 124,500 children.

Google's Baluja explained: "The keys here were organization, scalability, and search. 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. We hope the tools we've built for NCMEC will help its analysts make the important and often time-sensitive work of investigating child predators faster and more efficient."

Ernie Allen, president and chief exec of NCMEC, added: "Criminals are using cutting-edge technology to commit their crimes of child sexual exploitation, and in fighting to solve those crimes and keep children safe, we must do the same."

Last week Google announced a plan to allow Brazilian police to access 3,261 private photo albums on Google-owned social networking website Orkut, suspected of containing images of child abuse. ®

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