Google is using its technology in the fight against photos of child abuse appearing on the internet by building tools that can identify missing children.

In a project led by Shumeet Baluja – working with America’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) – the internet giant has been using its capacity for dealing with and indexing massive amounts of information to help out in the fight against child abuse.

Google blog

Posting on the Google blog, Baluja said: "I recruited some fellow engineers to help me build tools that NCMEC might find useful. Throughout 2007, using our 20 per cent time, we created innovative software tools to help NCMEC track down child predators through video and image search.

"With these tools, analysts will be able to more quickly and easily search NCMEC's large information systems to sort and identify files that contain images of child pornography. In addition, a new video tool we built streamlines analysts' review of video snippets."

Worthy

The upshot is that Google’s famed choice to encourage workers to spend one fifth of their week on side projects can bring about entirely worthy projects.

"Criminals are using cutting edge technology to commit their crimes of child sexual exploitation, and in fighting to solve those crimes and keep children safe, we must do the same," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC.

"That is why we are so grateful to Google for providing new tools that will enable the National Center to better serve law enforcement in battling exploitation and rescuing children."