Attorney General Cuomo Announces Additional Social Networking Sites Join His Initiative To Eliminate Sharing Of Thousands Of Images Of Child Pornography

JERICHO, NY (June 29, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a further expansion of his groundbreaking initiative to eliminate sharing of thousands of images of child pornography on social networking Web sites.

Popular online sites LiveJournal and Fotolog have both agreed to use Attorney General Cuomo’s hash value database to block attempts to share images of children being sexually abused. LiveJournal is a popular provider of blog space while Fotolog hosts a photography file sharing community. Last week, popular social networking sites Friendster and hi5, and peer-to-peer site isoHunt joined Facebook and MySpace in using the database.

“By adopting the hash value database, these companies join a responsible and industry leading group,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Collectively, we are putting technology to work and growing our partnerships to shut down the digital pipeline of child pornography and protect our families.”

Hash values are the equivalent of numerical fingerprints. Each image, video and file online has a unique fingerprint. Through its investigations, the Attorney General’s Office has created a database of more than 8,000 hash values that are associated with images of child pornography. The database can be used to identify the corresponding child pornography images through the fingerprints and stop that picture from ending up on a site.

The Attorney General continues to urge other social networking companies and peer-to-peer sites to use the hash value database. Companies that have received a letter from the Attorney General regarding his hash value database are: Black Planet; Buzznet; eSpin/eCrush; Flickr; Flixster; MyLife (formerly Reunion.com); Orkut; Stickam; and Stardoll.

The database will continue to grow as law enforcement agencies around the state contribute additional hash values. These hash values are also made available to law enforcement agencies to help in investigations and in the prosecutions of crimes against children.

The revolutionary database will be housed by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and maintained by the joint efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and DCJS.

Anjelika Petrochenko from LiveJournal said, “LiveJournal is proud to partner with Attorney General Cuomo to further protect children and make the Internet safer. We are committed to ensuring a safe and responsible environment for our users, and employing this revolutionary database will further enhance our safeguards. LiveJournal thanks the Attorney General for his ongoing efforts in making our online world safer, and looks forward to continuing to partner with his office in the future.”

Arne Jokela, President and CTO of Fotolog said, “As an online community where members share their lives visually, we are constantly working to ensure that all content that appears on Fotolog is positive and appropriate. That is why we welcome Attorney General Cuomo’s database into our arsenal of existing tools to keep our site free of pornography. Attorney General Cuomo’s leadership in Internet safety issues is to be commended, and we proudly stand with him in his fight to protect children.”

Laura Ahearn, Executive Director for Parents for Megan’s Law, said, “Attorney General Cuomo’s commitment to Internet safety issues continues to have a real and meaningful impact in protecting families in New York and across the country. Live Journal and Fotolog’s agreement to use his database of hash values makes the Internet a safer place. I continue to applaud Attorney General Cuomo and his team’s ongoing efforts to crackdown on child pornography.”

Protecting children from online exploitation has been a priority for Attorney General Cuomo:

  • In October 2007, Cuomo and Facebook entered into an historic settlement agreement to promote online safety for children. The agreement required Facebook to, for the first time, respond quickly and effectively to consumer reports and complaints about sexual predators, obscene content and harassment. The agreement became a paradigm for protecting children on social networking sites. Facebook, which was required to monitor its complaint handling procedures for two years, achieved a 99.9 percent compliance rate even as its active user base grew from 50 million to more than 350 million users, showing that large companies can respond efficiently and effectively to its user complaints.
  • In 2008, Attorney General Cuomo introduced the Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (E-Stop), the nation’s most comprehensive law that enhances protections from sexual predators on the Internet. Under E-Stop, many sexual predators are banned outright from using social networking sites on the Internet while on probation or parole and all convicted, New York sex offenders must register their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state. That information is then made available to social networking sites so they can purge potential predators from their online world. In addition to Facebook and MySpace, 30 other social networking Web sites have agreed to use E-Stop information. As of early 2010, more than 9,000 New York accounts linked to nearly 4,000 individual sex offenders have been removed by these sites.
  • In 2008, Attorney General Cuomo secured agreements with every major Internet Service Provider in New York state requiring them to block access to child pornography Newsgroups, a major supplier of illegal images.The ISPs also agreed to purge their servers of child pornography Web sites. More information about this initiative can be found online at www.nystopchildporn.com.
  • In early June, Cuomo announced his intent to sue Tagged.com over significant and serious lapses in its response to user reports of graphic images of children being sexually abused, inappropriate sexual communications between adults and minors, and content that advocates pedophilia on the site.

The hash value database will be under the cooperative supervision and maintenance of the Attorney General’s Office and DCJS. The matter is being handled by Acting Chief of the Internet Bureau Karen Geduldig, and Investigator Milton Branch of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), under the supervision of Senior Policy Advisor Matthew Brotmann.

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