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The Internet Watch Foundation Just Fingerprinted Over a Million Digital Images of Child Sexual Abuse

Images depicting child sexual abuse have become notoriously widespread on the internet, and while steps have been taken to reduce its prevalence it continues to be an issue despite major efforts. A UK based charity called the Internet Watch Foundation tried to contribute to the mitigation of CSA image distribution online by creating a database that contains over a million digital fingerprints of images that have already been detected in the hopes that this will prevent them from spreading further.

The images themselves come from a database created by the UK government that contains some of the most disturbing videos and images in this category. The IWF used an algorithm to create individual hashes that would mark these images in a unique way, and with all of that having been said and now out of the way it is important to note that there are still ways in which sexual abusers can work around them by making subtle changes to the images in question.

Additionally, some images are encrypted which means that creating digital fingerprints for them is just not possible with all things having been considered and taken into account. In spite of the fact that this is the case, this nonprofit managed to delete over a quarter of a million websites, or 252,000 to be precise, which contained images depicting some form of child sexual abuse.

Some of the children that are being shown in these pictures are as young as five years old, and that reveals the nefarious extent to which this problem has grown. Children need to be protected at all costs, and their abuse and the recording of it is turning into an unfortunate industry that keeps finding new homes for itself after actions are taken to crack down on it.

This registry is a positive step, but many more will have to be taken before actual change can be seen. Children will not be safe online as long as such images are allowed to circulate, and Big Tech has a pretty significant role to play here as well.


Read next: Tech Coalition Asks Google, Meta, Roblox, Snap, And TikTok To Use New Transparency Framework

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