LeaseWeb 1st Hosting Provider to Install Child Porn Filter

LeaseWeb, one of Europe’s largest business hosting providers, has initiated a pilot to check images on child porn sensitive websites with so called hash technology. LeaseWeb will implement the filtering solution in close consultation with Dutch Ministry of Justice and Dutch Child Porn Hotline, in cooperation with Swedish company NetClean.

The Dutch Ministry of Justice appreciates the initiative LeaseWeb has started to fight child porn online even before images are being published through websites. When the hash technology turns out to be effective, the Dutch Ministry of Justice will give a follow-up to LeaseWebs initiative by offering the technology to the market on a broad scale in cooperation with LeaseWeb. Other hosting providers in The Netherlands are then invited to follow the example of LeaseWeb and join the initiative.

Traditional Approach
“The hosting network of LeaseWeb, which runs more than 2 million websites, is one of the biggest hosting networks in Europe where ordinarily child porn subsequently is being removed,” says Alex de Joode, Security Officer of LeaseWeb. “Within the international hosting market in general these are normal procedures to fight cyber crime.”

“In our network in 2007 however we noticed an increase of the amount of reports regarding child porn images,” says De Joode, also cofounder of European cyber crime hotline network INHOPE. “Reports which where mainly caused by co called upload websites, websites like Flickr. On these websites users can bring images online without the interference of website administrators. In 2008 fortunately the amount of reports has declined a bit, but still reports within the LeaseWeb network were substantial. For LeaseWeb this is unacceptable. With current investments in new technological solutions we hope to change the character of our working procedures to a more proactive approach. This way we hope to prevent child porn sensitive websites from being abused by distributors of child porn.”

Proactive Approach
“To fight child porn more effectively we weighed the possibilities of several innovative technologies in the market,” says De Joode. “With the introduction of hash technology we now hope to have found an adequate solution. Hash technology to my knowledge has not been used within this context before. The positive feedback we got from Dutch Ministry of Justice also gives us a positive feeling about the project.”

At first, the implementation of a child porn filter for child porn sensitive websites concerns a pilot for a year. The pilot will be implemented at the website of one of LeaseWebs clients, one of the bigger upload websites being administrated within the LeaseWeb hosting network. This is a voluminous website with about 40 million images online, where users can upload images and share these with others. De Joode: “Our choice to use this customer for the pilot project has been a deliberate one, because as I said many reports are coming from websites like these. The client in question immediately gave a positive reaction on our proposal to start a pilot project with filtering on child porn.”

With the initiative and accessory investments LeaseWeb will maintain its trendsetting position in the hosting market. De Joode: “We started this initiative 6 months ago and we think to have found the right solution at this moment. We will develop the filtering solution furthermore, offer it to other clients who have these upload websites as well, but when we are satisfied with the solution we will offer it to the broad hosting market, free to use. Combating child porn on the internet is a necessary thing to which we are more than willing to contribute.”

Finger Prints on Images
The hash technology LeaseWeb has chosen is called MD5. The technology is capable of adding digital finger prints (hashes) to undesirable images. A database with finger prints of undesirable images subsequently checks whether there is a ‘match’. If so, the applicable image is blocked from being put online.”

At first LeaseWeb is going to use the database of the Swedish company NetClean, a company that runs the ‘hash database’ of the Swedish police commercially, to feed the hash database of LeaseWeb so child porn images can be traced and blocked from being put online. LeaseWeb is in close consultation with Justice Department and police amongst others to examine whether and how hash databases from Dutch police could be used in this project as well.

“Most of the time it’s the same images that emerge on the internet over and over again,” says De Joode. “With this technology we hope to stop this continuous circulation of child porn images. By using more than one database from several relevant parties within this pilot we expect to maximise the effects.”

2 Responses to “LeaseWeb 1st Hosting Provider to Install Child Porn Filter”

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