Google takes on child pronography

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Google has been fighting the nasty side of the web for a long time. Doing its best to blacklist websites that promote hate,violence, and different forms of evil and sickening pornography like child porn and animal cruelty. Today Google announced it is making the awesome step of creating a database of illegal images to ban from the web. According to The Telegraph:

‘The new database, which is expected to be operational within a year, will allow child porn images which have already been “flagged” by child protection organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to be wiped from the web in one fell swoop.’

This is too good not to share. Here is the whole story: Google builds new system to eradicate child porn images from the web.

Way to go Google! The world could use more news like this.

* Note: I really couldn’t think of a stronger word than sickening because there is no word strong enough to describe how bad that is. We all know this.

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4 thoughts on “Google takes on child pronography

  1. I am deeply suspicious of anything Google does. They’re in bed with the NSA — and no, I don’t mean “the NSA has been snooping on them” I mean “they’ve been enthusiastic assistants” — they were perfectly willing to help China censor the Internet until it turned out China wanted access to their proprietary search algorithms (at which point they claimed they had a moral aversion to censorship — which, incidentally, is counter to this particular product, however much I would like to see pedophiles punished), they ripped off Apple’s iOS to make Android (which is, itself, basically a bid to invade people’s privacy by way of their phone service), they rip off authors shamelessly via Google Books (but if you repackage their search results, better be ready for a lawsuit!), and they spend more on lobbying than any other tech firm — more than the next two biggest spenders combined, in fact. Everything about them is shady and suggests that they’re up to no good. I have very little doubt that this database will either be discontinued after a while (as with practically any Google product which is useful without turning a profit) or else will be used to harass innocent people before long (as, for example, by permitting people to demand censorship by submitting images, with no humans vetting the entries and no appeal process) with Google shrugging its shoulders and saying “hey, it’s a free service, we didn’t force anyone to use it”.

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    • This sounds very much like a conspiracy theory. Do you have any proof?
      Also even if Google is as malevolent as you say this is still good news and worth sharing.

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      • I’m not sure that it is good news. Spam blacklist servers operate under a similarly noble banner — who likes spammers? — and they have a tendency to cause a lot of trouble for a lot of innocent people (there’s a public service listserv I deal with regularly that’s had a lot of problems because of Spamhaus, for example — Spamhaus decided that all messages from the colo host must be spam because one server had sent some spam, and it turned out there was effectively no appeal, but you could more or less buy your way out of their blacklisting). Google’s customer service has tended not to be very good — in the case of Android, it’s basically nonexistent, as many people who bought Nexus phones directly from them have discovered. In five years, when we have a spate of news stories about people who have been added to the sexual predator list because people trying to harass them have submitted non-child-porn to the blacklist and Google has automated acceptance (as they basically do for DMCA takedowns on Youtube), you’ll be frantically trying to explain why such a great service has turned out to be such a blow against ordinary people, and I’ll just be nodding my head. The downsides of letting this happen at all, let alone giving the responsibility to a private company with a shady history, are pretty obvious to anyone who has any experience with Internet services.

        As for evidence of my claims, which part are you objecting to?

        That they’ve been in bed with the NSA? I’ll admit I can’t find any links right at this instant other than this one from 2010 which reports the partnership rather noncommittally (and belatedly!), because the PRISM story has basically flooded the news pipeline, but Google has been working with the NSA voluntarily for a very long time, and I recall seeing that they were lending a hand with building the NSA’s search algorithms a few years back. (Come to that, their current attempt at whitewashing boils down to “oh, we won’t actually take a stand against the NSA spying, but we want to be able to pretend we aren’t bad guys by letting you know post facto what they were looking for”. They know as well as everyone else that the government response will simply be to give an order for all the data on all the users all the time, thus making the fake attempt at transparency a moot point.)

        As for China, the story has been unfolding for years. First Google was confidently announcing that Chinese censorship would fail, and making a big to-do about warning users, but were so anxious to get a toehold in China that they went ahead and complied with the censorship. Gradually, they’ve been saying less about it in China — but the gist is: China wants to do all the work themselves, Google doesn’t want to let them, and suddenly Schmidt has found his conscience and is badmouthing the Chinese. They also made rather extravagant claims about Gmail being hacked from China — which, to the tech-savvy, is merely another reason to stay away from Gmail, but I digress. (I’ll say this for him: like Obama, Schmidt is great at giving excuses which frame his company’s faults as virtues. Remember when Obama announced we were pulling out of Iraq as though he had been pushing for it and had finally succeeded? In reality, Bush had strongarmed the Iraqi government into agreeing never to prosecute U.S. troops for crimes of any sort, including war crimes, with the agreement ending in 2011. Obama spent the first 3 years of his presidency desperately pushing to have that agreement extended, because our troops are guilty of all kinds of illegal shit over there and without a blanket immunity the Iraqis would be fully justified in throwing nearly all of ’em into the local equivalent of Gitmo, but the Iraqis wisely said no and so we had to get out. Obama’s attempt to frame that as a policy victory was a blatant, outright lie. Schmidt is an expert at that kind of thing, if you pay attention.)

        Android being a ripoff of iOS? Well, they gave a public demo of Android before anyone other than Steve Jobs and the iPhone team had seen the iPhone OS. At the time, Android wasn’t a smartphone OS at all; it started off as a camera OS, then got changed to a “feature phone” (i.e. cell phones which aren’t smartphones) OS. It didn’t look anything like iOS at all in the public demo. Then Steve Jobs gave a private demo of the iPhone to the Apple board — which, at the time, included Schmidt, who had promised he wouldn’t use his position on Apple’s board to steal anything for Google. Within a month, Android became positioned as a smartphone OS, and took on the pseudo-iPhone GUI. Since then, Google bought Motorola’s mobile division, and has been illegally overcharging Apple for access to their FRAND patents (and have even been found in contempt of court for it because they refused to stop even after being found guilty in court). Interestingly, despite claims that Apple is unusually litigious, most of the lawsuits Apple is involved with which involve the iPhone were initiated by Android phone makers — notably Samsung.

        As for Android being a way to invade privacy, well, you may have heard the axiom that if you aren’t paying for something, it means that you are in fact the product? You know, the way you don’t pay for broadcast commercial TV because what is being sold is airtime to advertisers? Well, Android is free, and is built to hook into Google’s services as much as possible — particularly using the Google apps which are not, themselves, open-source despite all the hoopla about that side of it. They hook into Google’s web services, which are all built to collect your data and profile you — like the search functions which track your queries with a cookie in order to sell you more effectively to targeted advertisers? Or maybe the Google Docs system which stores your data in a server owned by a company which is well-known for ignoring copyright and stealing works without permission. (Just a fun factoid: you remember when Apple was raked over the coals in Congress because it turned out that the iPhone was caching location data and not erasing it? You may recall that it turned out Apple wasn’t actually using the data, or even doing anything with it; the fact that it wasn’t erased was really just the programmer who wrote the caching function being lazy. What you probably didn’t hear is that Android was compiling the same data — and then contacting Google and sending it to them, along with the phone identifier so they could track you. Yes, that’s the “transparent”, “open” company you should trust, all right.)

        Or maybe you’re claiming they don’t spend so much on lobbying. Well, they certainly did in 2012 — they spent over $18 million, more than the next two largest tech lobbyists combined (Microsoft at $8.09 million and HP at $7.22 million) and over 9 times what Apple spent, and they’re ramping up further.

        Don’t trust ’em. “Don’t be evil” was clearly a joke — or, more likely, a deliberate and cynical piece of marketing to people who don’t pay enough attention.

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