Police who track pedophiles have to do some pretty thankless work once they have their perps — they must sift through large volumes of videos and images to find the illegal ones, and catalog what they've found. Now a new detection algorithm could make their work a little easier, by helping to spot files containing child pornography.
By the time authorities have tracked down and deleted images of child abuse victims, they've already been downloaded, explains a news release from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK in Berlin. And the hoarders of this illicit imagery are pretty good at hiding it, sometimes burying the files in mountains of other unrelated data. Fraunhofer's new pattern-recognition software can sort and organize a computer's contents, and then analyze images and video to search for qualities that would characterize them as child porn.
"Technologies such as facial and skin-tone recognition are combined with contextual and scene analyses to identify suspicious content," said project manager Raul Vicente-Garcia.
The images are displayed as thumbnails in an image viewer, like the one seen above, and suspicious files are singled out. An investigator can click to embiggen each of them to inspect it, and a second click marks the images as evidence, according to Fraunhofer. A human investigator still has to verify the software's findings, but it's much faster than looking through each file individually — on a standard computer, the software can process 10 images per second.
The system is called "desCRY," after a literary English word meaning "to discern" or "to catch sight of."
Porn filters are not a new idea — remember this sonic one, that listens for the telltale sounds of sexual activity? Still, this Fraunhofer one is interesting because it combines still image and video detection, still an evolving field for search programmers. And it focuses on child porn, a particular target for police agencies around the globe.
Researchers led by Bertram Nickolay at Fraunhofer IPK worked with investigators from the State Office of Criminal Investigation in Berlin to develop the system, and this month they are considering using it in field tests. Meanwhile, software giant SAP agreed to help market the technology, Fraunhofer says.
So in other words, cops have permission to access child pornography whenever they want? And assuming they aren't pedophiles themselves, they are still willing to look at many videos and images based on child pornography? I'm interested in hearing how that turns out!
Its not much different then the undercover cops why use/sell drugs to enforce our drug laws. In order to find criminals you have to go where criminals hang out, and in order to "prove" they are criminals you have to "witness" the criminal act. Just like when/if the pedophiles are caught and brought to trial, the jury will be expected to look at the photo's as well.
You just have to trust that the people who are enforcig the law aren't doing it because they too are mentally disturbed pedophiles.
"Embiggen" the image? Please tell me that was an intentional typo.
It's great that this technology is in development, it should be quite helpful to law enforcement. Hopefully this scanner will be used to search the internet in general, and make it easier to root out the channels through which dabblers and creators of child pornography do their work.
@GetRevenge32: Hardly "whenever they want." Only those assigned to an active investigation are given access to the material. At least, I hope this is the case.
...And there goes my dream job. Just when I thought I had it all figured out...
Most the people on the internet are searching for porn anyway. Why not enlist a few to help catch pedofiles?
They could call it "pedo zoo".
"Every second - 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines"
My heart goes out to all those who suffer from the porn, prostitution, violence. I am glad better tools are becoming available to our police. Better tools help punish the guilty and clearly help to avoid harassing the innocent too. Similar advances like DNA testing has helped to identity the guilty and help free the innocent. I approve of this technology of this article.
But there are those who care less of the punishment, once they are caught doing these terrible crimes. This is obvious as these crimes continue to be so persistent. I also hope as they clearly identify the guilty, they also increase the level of punishment to further deter future crimes like this.
@Onihikage: "Embiggen" is a perfectly cromulent word.