The Issue

Microsoft Expands PhotoDNA to Fight Child Abuse Imagery

By July 29, 2015 August 3rd, 2015 No Comments

Advances in connectivity, data storage, file sharing and smartphone technology have contributed to an explosive increase in child sexual abuse imagery, making it easier for those who share abusive content to connect and form communities. Traditionally, identification and classification of child sexual abuse imagery (CSAI) has been performed separately by online photo sharing companies, with some companies unable to implement image identification and classification at all. This lack of collaboration duplicates efforts and reduces the effectiveness and speed of identifying, removing and reporting child sexual abuse material, potentially slowing victim assistance. In an effort to fight this growing problem, the tech industry is working together like never before—this is where PhotoDNA comes in.

An important step in combatting child sexual abuse imagery

Thorn Tech Task Force member Microsoft recently announced that their PhotoDNA technology, a service that helps accelerate the identification, removal and reporting of child abuse imagery, will be available in the cloud. This move will gives companies, big and small, a powerful tool to help remove child abuse imagery from their platform while assisting law enforcement in the identification and rescue of victims. Over 70 companies are already putting PhotoDNA to use, collaborating in the removal of millions of illegal photos across the web. With Microsoft leveraging the cloud as a way to more easily integrate PhotoDNA, we’re hopeful that more companies will be interested in using the technology on their own platforms, and plug into the Industry Hash Sharing Platform, so that they can more rapidly build a shared database of image hashes and, consequently, more rapidly remove this content from their systems.

“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.” — Courtney Gregoire, senior attorney at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit

Check out the video below to learn more about this free tool and find out how your company can get involved in the fight against child sexual abuse imagery with access to Microsoft’s PhotoDNA Cloud Service.

NCMEC offers even more ways for tech companies to collaborate using Industry Hash Sharing Platform

Companies using PhotoDNA also have the opportunity to share hash values of photos they have found with other companies. Participation in this system expedites image identification, removal and reporting by sharing intelligence across the industry, while also creating a reduced human impact on front-line safety teams who have to view content, reduction in costs for teams scanning for images and more effective and efficient reporting to NCMEC, leading to more rapid victim identification. Contact NCMEC to participate in the Industry Hash Sharing Platform. If you are concerned your company does not have the bandwidth to participate in this system or would like assistance with implementation, Thorn can help. Please contact the ESP Team, NCMEC,, or Thorn,