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.

Product Review

Can the Samsung Space Monitor save you from your cluttered desk?

High-concept monitors can sometimes over-complicate thing. Samsung's Space Monitor, however, tries to fix that problem by lifting the monitor off and away from your desk.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 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.

Keep your kids safe online with these great parental control tools

The internet can be a dangerous place, especially for your loved ones. Check out our selection of the best free parental control software for Windows and MacOS, so you can monitor your child and block unsavory sites.

Here’s one thing you need to do before giving your child a smartphone 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. Learn how you can protect your child from online dangers.

Amazon drops killer deals on certified refurbished MacBook Pros for today only

Amazon is offering discounts of up to $320 off on four refurbished 2018 MacBook Pros as part of its current Deal of the Day promotion. Interested customers can snag two different MacBook Pros with 256GB of SSD storage for $1,330 each.

HP drops killer deals on laptops with up to $1,300 off for Memorial Day Weekend

HP is currently dropping prices on Spectre x360, Envy, Pavilion, and Omen laptops during its Memorial Day event. So if you're in dire need of a new laptop, the latest holiday savings may be exactly what you're looking for.

The Dell XPS 13 headlines the best laptop deals for May 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

These external drives have speed, durability, and storage space to spare

Whether you want an external storage drive that is fast, portable, or comes with a ton of storage, these are the best external hard drives available today. They all come with great features and competitive pricing.

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart drop discounts

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.

The 2019 ThinkPad lineup is robust. Here's how to pick the right one for you

Be it the X series, the T series, E series, it can be tough to find the best Lenovo laptop that is right for you. To help, we'll break down all the options available to make your choice a more informed one.

Here’s how to watch AMD reveal its new Ryzen chips at Computex

AMD will be holding a pre-Computex keynote on May 27 to announce its new line of 3rd-generation Ryzen processors and accompanying Radeon Navi graphics cards. Here's how to watch the keynote live wherever you are in the world.

Should you buy a MacBook Pro or a Razer Blade Stealth? We'll help you decide

Laptop head to heads are a great way to see which one might be the right one for you. Our latest sees the Razer Blade Stealth (2019) vs. MacBook Pro in a fight to see which one deserves to be your next laptop.

AMD's latest Navi graphics cards are incoming. Here's what to expect

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles like Sony's PlayStation 5.