Saturday, May 21, 2011

IN - Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home


Facebook’s New Way to Combat Child Pornography

Original Article
Facebook Scanning for Child Porn, Missing Kids

See ZMan's comments on this at the end.

05/19/2011

By RIVA RICHMOND

As online photo sharing has exploded so has, tragically, the distribution of child pornography. But while the rise of the Internet and digital cameras have revived a scourge that had nearly been eliminated in the late 1980s, new technology may also help to beat it back again.

Microsoft says it has refined a technology it created called PhotoDNA to identify the worst of these disturbing images — even if they are cropped or otherwise altered — and cull through large amounts of data quickly and accurately enough to police the world’s largest online services. And on Thursday, it will announce that Facebook will be the first service to join it in using the free technology, which Microsoft donated to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in December 2009.

Facebook, the largest photo-sharing site on the Internet, said it has begun to use PhotoDNA to hunt for several thousand registered illegal images among the 200 million images uploaded by its users each day. Facebook will host an online event at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on Friday to explain the initiative, which follows its January move to join the center’s Amber Alert network.

Our hope and belief is that Facebook will be just the first of many” companies to use what has proven to be highly effective technology, said Ernie Allen, chief executive of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “ Online services are going to become a hostile place for child pornographers and pedophiles.”

PhotoDNA is being used to find and remove only known images of sexual exploitation of pre-pubescent children to avoid trampling on the privacy and free-speech rights of consumers of adult pornography, he said. The courts have ruled that pornographic pictures of children are child abuse, not legally protected free speech.

By focusing on images of children under 12, the initiative is battling “the worst of the worst” images, which are often shared over and over again, he said. Child pornography is growing increasingly violent and depicting increasingly young children, including infants and toddlers.

These are crime scene photos,” not porn, Mr. Allen said. “This tool is essential to protect these victims and to prevent, to the greatest degree possible, the redistribution of their sexual abuse.”

PhotoDNA can currently search for about 10,000 images collected by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which has amassed 48 million images and videos depicting child exploitation since 2002, including 13 million in 2010 alone. The center has a Congressional mandate to act as a clearinghouse for this material, to help identify and aid victims and to assist law enforcement in investigations of perpetrators.

Tests conducted on Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Windows Live and Bing services during the last year indicate a chillingly large trade in these images. A network that compares 10 million images to the center’s inventory of 10,000 illegal photos can expect to have about 125 hits a day, according to Hany Farid, a Dartmouth computer science professor and expert in digital imagery who worked with Microsoft to hone the technology. At least 50,000 child pornography images are being transmitted online every day, he estimated.

This is not a tiny dark little world,” he said. “The problem is phenomenal.”

PhotoDNA works by creating a “hash,” or digital code, to represent a given image and find instances of it within large data sets, much as antivirus software does for malicious programs. However, PhotoDNA’ s “robust hashes” are able to find images even if they have been altered significantly. Tests on Microsoft properties showed it accurately identifies images 99.7 percent of the time and sets off a false alarm only once in every 2 billion images, and most of them point to nearly identical images, Dr. Farid said.

To create a hash, the software puts the image in black and white and into a standard size. Then it carves the image into blocks and subjects it to an array of measurements. The resulting “signatures” can be provided to online service providers, who can then use them to find these specific illegal images on their systems without possessing them or looking at customers’ private content.

We’re very passionate about PhotoDNA because we’ve seen it work,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’ s general counsel. “We invented it through Microsoft research, and we are trying to give it away free, including to our competitors.” He encouraged consumers to pressure online services to adopt it.


Until now, Facebook has relied primarily on abuse reports from its users, reviewed by trained employees, to find and eliminate offensive images. But with PhotoDNA, it can keep child pornography from making it onto its site in the first place. “We’ve found it to be a very powerful tool in identifying these images,” Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s assistant general counsel said.

PhotoDNA has potential future applications in areas like protecting intellectual property and could aid law enforcement. Rob McKenna, the state attorney general in Washington, said his office is interested in its potential to bolster cases against pedophiles who have molested multiple children by identifying photographs of multiple crimes that occurred in the same physical setting.

Mr. Allen said he hopes that all major Internet services will eventually adopt PhotoDNA, including the 90 technology companies with whom it already works to block and take down Web sites known to trade in child pornography.

The results of the yearlong pilot at Microsoft, he said, should provide “enormous reassurance to companies that this works, that this is something they should do, that it’s the responsible thing to do and that they can use it without fear of violating anybody’s rights.”





ZMAN'S COMMENTS

I worked for a medical billing company for 11 years, and was responsible for the imaging process which basically worked like this. We would get medical documents sent to us from the hospitals. We would then scan them in (into image files) using high-speed scanners. Those images would then be routed to an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software package. The OCR program we used (very expensive, so are the scanners), was programmed to extract certain data from the images, into text files. After all images were ran through this process, they would then be routed to another process which would read those text files and load the information into a database. Finally, that database, along with the images, would be routed to another process which would make them available on the secure web site so that the hospitals could search for images and other information, then finally pull up the associated images and make any changes needed to the information captured.

Many people who have worked with scanning and OCR'ing images knows, it takes a lot of memory and machine power to do this. And it's slow, even on a high-end machine, and is not always 100% accurate.

The video above, in my opinion, is misleading. It makes it sound as if this is going to scan Facebook and possibly other web sites for child porn images, and if it finds one, it will delete it. Well, that is not possible. It can only alert someone to the image' presence, and then someone would have to check the image manually, and then get the web site owner to remove the image or report it to the police. It would have to gain access to the web site and servers to delete the image, which is not possible unless they are hacking into web sites. And that is illegal.

Also keep in mind, there are tons of videos out there as well. What about those?

The way I can see this possibly working, on Facebook only, is that as a user uploads a photo to their profile, it would then run the PhotoDNA on the image to check it against known images of child porn (which would be stored on a server). If it suspects it is child porn, it could then delete it on the spot, or report it to Facebook to verify it, and then they could contact the police. Or, it would just email the police directly, granting them access to see the image either by emailing the police the users login name and password, or send the police another URL to allow them to view it, and then they'd take the necessary actions. Also, someone would have to be storing the known child porn images, which could also potentially raise a red flag to the FBI or someone else that someone is housing a lot of child porn, and they could possibly be charged with storing child porn. Maybe. So I guess the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is housing a ton of child porn which they use to compare against. And what about the people at the NCMEC who view these images? Do they get counseling? Surely after viewing graphic images like this, they would need it after awhile. Just like police do when they are subjected to graphic crime scenes.

Now I have worked with images before, so I know they cannot just create a single hash code for the one image, that would not work. If the image was modified in any way, then the hash code would then be different. So what they probably do is divide the image up into squares, and each square gets it's own hash code. Then they would compare all the hash codes with a database of hash codes, and if a certain percentage matches, it would then delete the image or report it to the authorities and Facebook. But again, this would only work on the Facebook site, not the entire Internet, unless a bot if created (like Google Bots) to scan the Internet, but that would be very slow.

There is also a technology called Steganography (video) which allows people to embed a secret message into an image. So giving the fact that this can be done, what is to stop people from using this to embed a secret image inside another image?

If this PhotoDNA was a stand-alone process that works like Google bots to scan the Internet, Microsoft would also have to have access to the NCMEC images, or house the images themselves. And scanning each photo on the Internet, running it against the process, would take forever. And like I said, they cannot hack into web sites, legally, so they could only report the images, not delete them.

Finally, I think the PhotoDNA would have to be installed on ALL web sites, and a programmer would have to program it to scan their own web servers or images others upload, and delete them or report them without deleting them, for evidence later.

Anyway, the video is misleading and doesn't work exactly like many would think, in my opinion.

NOTE: I am not saying this does or doesn't work, it's Microsoft, and I understand the video is a PR video, but it still is misleading, IMO. I just wanted to share my thoughts on it, from another perspective. Like I said, I am an ex-programmer, so I know how some things work and do not work. Anyway, take my comments for whatever you wish.

What do you think?


WA - Sex offender sues family of girl he abused, after vigilante mom posts slanderous blog posts

Original Article

05/21/2011

TACOMA (KING/CNN) - A sex offender in Washington is suing the family of a little girl he sexually assaulted, claiming the mother's story of how her family is healing slanders his name.

He wants her to stop telling it.

"Today my family has what we need, and that's what we try to focus," said Danielle Schneider, who now spends her days cleaning, cooking and caring for her family.

But when all of her six kids are asleep it's time to hit the computer and blog, about one specific person.

"His story became my story when he chose to abuse my child," Schneider said.

She is talking about 26-year-old [name withheld], a level two sex offender, convicted four years ago of inappropriate contact with her then 11-year-old child.

"I just felt if I could save one child from being sexually abused I could take being vulnerable myself and sharing our story," Schneider said.

But sharing her story has come at a price.

[name withheld] is now suing Schneider for $60,000 because he said she is slandering his name.

But the Schneiders are almost broke thanks to mounting legal and counseling bills for their daughter.

"My husband and I have had to go to food banks," Danielle Schneider said.

[name withheld]' attorney, Mike Davis, said he sympathizes with the Schneiders, but asks that they take down details that are private and simply not true.

"For my immediate anxiety of paying the doctor bills or paying the lawyer and needing to go to the food bank, is worth what I believe the big picture and what I hope the outcome will be," Schneider said.

Davis said his client has served his sentence, and has undergone treatment.

He also said they're trying to negotiate a compromise so the case does not go to trial.


Bystander Effect - People watch girl being abducted


FL - City moves to limit sex offender residences

Original Article

When all counties do this, we will then see the laws come crumbling down, due to no place for ex-offenders, trying to get on with their lives, to stay. When are lawyers and civil/human rights experts going to stop being greedy sob's and fight to get these unconstitutional laws repealed?

05/21/2011

By ERIC HORCHY

NEW PORT RICHEY - City council members took a step this week toward amending the language of an ordinance regarding registered sex offenders living within city limits.

The proposed change to Ordinance 1774 (PDF) would make it unlawful for sexual offenders or sexual predators who move to the city from outside Florida to reside within 2,500 feet of any school, day care center, library, church, park or playground.

Ordinance 1774, adopted in September 2005, lacks language requiring people convicted of sex crimes outside of Florida to register as offenders or predators when they move to New Port Richey.

Forced Exile?
An amendment would force registered sex offenders and sexual predators who move to the city from outside Florida to register, said Police Chief Jeffrey Harrington.

"So it tightens up that loophole right there," Harrington said.

On Tuesday, council members unanimously moved the amendment forward to a second and final reading, which will come at the next council meeting on June 7.

The council decided there was no reason to increase the required distance between where sex offenders and predators live and places where children gather. Since the city is only about 4.6 square miles in size, the existing 2,500-foot limit already renders most of the city off limits to offenders, Councilman Robert Marlowe said.

"I'm not sure, but I think that probably covers virtually the entire city," he said. "There may be a few little areas that are more than a half-mile from a church or a school, but there can't be very many of them."
- And this forces ex-offenders into pockets, and when this occurs, out comes the mob, thus it's forced exile!

According to offender information on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, 145 registered sex offenders or predators live within a three-mile radius of City Hall.

Is the Constitution dead?
In January, San Antonio commissioners unanimously adopted an ordinance restricting how far registered sex offenders can live from places children congregate, including schools, school bus stops, day care centers and playgrounds. The ordinance expanded the boundary to 1,500 feet.
- So why don't the politicians tell us, how many kids have actually been sexually assaulted at ANY of these places?  I am willing to bet it's about 2% or less.

San Antonio commissioners previously considered extending the boundary to 2,500 feet, but they decided that a 1,500-foot boundary from each school bus stop would include virtually the entire town and would hold up better in court.
- Once again proving the law is about forced exile and punishment.

San Antonio, with a population of about 1,000 people, has only one registered sex offender, according to the FDLE registry.

The New Port Richey City Council began considering amending the sex offender ordinance after Tom Harris, a resident, raised the issue during the public comment portion of a March council meeting.

With the next quarterly public meeting on community policing scheduled for June 1, Harrington said the questions Harris raised are an example of how the police department and residents should communicate.

Harrington said, "We want people to be more engaged and more involved in order to set the agenda for policing in New Port Richey. We want to hear what's important to people in the community."
- And this is exactly why ex-offenders and their families should be speaking out.  If you don't, then more and more laws will be passed.

"That's exactly what happened and exactly how government's supposed to operate."