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Archive for July, 2015

Microsoft releases program to spot abuse images

July 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cloud Computing, Dr Search, Microsoft, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by users.

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by usersMicrosoft said that it had made the PhotoDNA tool available to tackle the 720,000 abuse images uploaded to the net every day. Many large social media networks are already using PhotoDNA to police uploaded images

Police forces, anti-abuse organisations and large social networks have been using the tool for some time to dig out the illegal images.

Microsoft said the online tool was for small firms that lack the resources to do image-checking themselves.

Spotting abuse images among the 1.8 billion pictures uploaded to online services every day was an almost impossible task, said Courtney Gregoire, a senior lawyer at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in a blogpost outlining the initiative.

While many large social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Flipboard were already using PhotoDNA, before now it had not been available to smaller online services, she said.

“We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst-of-the-worst images,” said Ms Gregoire.

The PhotoDNA system has been used to analyse and classify images of child sexual abuse held by Interpol, police forces and the US National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The technology generates a signature or hash for each image that can be compared with any new image to see if there is a match. It can spot images it has seen before even if they are cropped or otherwise manipulated to avoid detection systems.

Many of the images shared online have been seen before and spotting people trading them can help police forces unearth abusers previously unknown to them.

The free service puts PhotoDNA in the cloud and lets websites check images uploaded by users.

Should BT be split?

July 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BT.

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BTOpenreach is the “utility” bit of BT- which is the delivery mechanism for broadband to millions of customers.

Think Network Rail owning the railways bit of the train network, or National Grid owning the electricity grid which delivers power to our home.

Openreach is virtually a monopoly service, with Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and others obliged to pay BT for access to the broadband “pipes”.

And as such it is heavily regulated already- although according to John Fingleton, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading- the “enormously profitable” Openreach would be likely to perform better as a standalone company.

Mr Fingleton argues that a separate Openreach would be likely to invest more in improving broadband connections.

As an example he cites Worldpay, a former division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Worldpay operates a “plumbing business” for banks – providing payment services for card transactions and mobile phones.

Since RBS sold it, as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in 2008, its new private equity owners, Bain and Advent, have significantly increased investment.

Many believe that Openreach would travel the same route, and the amount invested in it as a standalone business would be more than the present £1 billion BT provides each year.

It could also mean accelerated investment in changing the network from the older copper network to “super-fast” fibre.

To enforce a sale, BT’s ownership of Openreach would probably need to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority which has more muscle in this area than Ofcom.

Mr Fingleton agrees this is the best route to decide whether Openreach would be better out of BT’s hands.

Sky – of course a major competitor to BT – concurs, calling this morning for a referral to the CMA.

It says that BT’s performance on broadband delivery leaves a lot to be desired, and that under investment means that appointments to connect its customers to broadband are often missed and that faults regularly remain unfixed.

Sky and BT don’t like each other very much, particularly since the latter took a healthy portion of Sky’s lunch by piling into sports television and winning the rights to broadcast Premier League matches.

There are dark mutterings that BT uses the vast profits from Openreach to fund its incursion into television, a claim the company hotly denies.

BT insists that Openreach’s service has improved, with 2,500 engineers added in the last year and 700 more coming this year. It says it reaches or exceeds all of the 60 service targets set it by Ofcom.

And that it is only because of BT’s large and healthy balance sheet that so much investment has been made in upgrading the network to super-fast broadband.

What won’t be superfast is the Ofcom process. This is just the latest stage in a far wider review of the UK’s digital market which will take months to conclude and years to implement.