Microsoft releases PhotoDNA for public use to help fight the spread of child pornography

microsoft distributing windows holographic developer kit at gdc 2017 hololens mixedworld rgb
In the grueling yet all too necessary fight against child pornography, one company has long led the charge. Microsoft has been a key advocate and warrior against the spread of such images across the web, selling its related software services to social media companies like Facebook and Twitter for years to prevent child porn from being uploaded to such platforms.

But now, the firm is giving away this software, Microsoft’s PhotoDNA, to the public for free. In an effort to stem the flow of more than 720,000 abuse images that appear online every single day, Microsoft’s cloud version of the software can be used by small businesses and individuals across the board in a collective effort to end this disgusting (not to mention illegal) practice.

In a blog post announcing the release, Microsoft noted, “The new PhotoDNA Cloud Service takes away … potential hurdles for smaller companies and other organizations that want to give users the freedom to upload content while ensuring the integrity of their platforms.” As Courtney Gregoire, a senior attorney at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit said, “Finding these known child sex abuse images in that huge universe is like finding a needle in a haystack. We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst of the worst images … and that’s how the concept for PhotoDNA in the cloud was born.”

According to Microsoft, the technology works by allowing “companies to compare millions of photos against a hash set of child sexual abuse images,” a set that is “derived from the ‘worst of the worst’ child pornography images uploaded to the CyberTipline by electronic service providers. John Shehan, vice president of NCMEC’s Exploited Child Division, told Microsoft, “Certainly, it’s important from a victims’ rights perspective; these are crime scene photographs. Microsoft providing this service is immense.”

Another key benefit of PhotoDNA is its reduction of the amount of time humans must spend looking at such disturbing content, which is taxing not only from an efficiency standpoint, but from an emotional and mental perspective as well. While some human content moderation is inevitable, at the very least, PhotoDNA lessens the burden, which is crucial in maintaining the well-being of many of these individuals.

If you’d like to use PhotoDNA for your own business, Microsoft allows you to apply for the service, encouraging everyone to work together in eliminating child sexual abuse images from the Web. It may be a long and arduous process, but there are few that are more worthwhile.


Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.

Old Nvidia graphics cards to get ray tracing support in upcoming driver

Nvidia's RTX ray tracing technology will no longer be limited to RTX graphics cards. An upcoming driver update will add support for low-end ray tracing to GTX 10-series and 16-series graphics cards.

Apple iMac gets more powerful with new Intel CPUs, Radeon Pro graphics

Apple on Tuesday, March 19 refreshed its iMac lineup with new models featuring slightly more powerful Intel processors and new AMD graphics cards. The new 27-inch 5K model comes with options for Intel's six-core or eight-core ninth-gen…

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.

USB4 will be the fastest and most uniform USB standard yet

USB4 is on the horizon and alongside a massive boost in speed it's also unifying with the Thunderbolt 3 standard to help finally create a singular wired connection protocol that all devices can enjoy.

The U.S. government plans to drop $500M on a ridiculously powerful supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to build a $500 million exascale supercomputer by 2021. The project, known as the Aurora supercomputer, is expected to boost research efforts in fields such as public health.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.
Product Review

4K and 144Hz? Yup, the Acer Predator XB3 will max out your gaming PC

The Predator XB3 isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have a system that can push over 100 frames per second in 4K screen resolution, this monster of a monitor might be the perfect match for your overpowered gaming rig.