IsoHunt Partners US Attorney General to Ban Child Porn

BitTorrent search engine isoHunt is the first foreign website to partner with New York Attorney General Cuomo in an effort to keep the Internet clean from child pornography. By using the Attorney General's hash value database to filter its search results, isoHunt will prevent thousands of images from spreading on BitTorrent.

isohuntTo combat the distribution of child pornography on the Internet, New York Attorney General Cuomo has started a hash value database. Site owners can use the database to voluntarily prevent thousands of illegal files from being shared via links posted from their websites.

The database is in use by many large social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster and MySpace and the Attorney General is continuously looking for new partners to join. One of the latest websites to be approached by the Attorney General’s office is the BitTorrent site isoHunt, whose owner immediately said yes to the invitation.

“Users of isoHunt have often notified us of illegal child content in the past. We are pleased to expand this effort in working with Attorney General Cuomo in a collaborative database in stopping such appalling files from being spread on BitTorrent,” commented isoHunt owner Gary Fung on the collaboration.

Canada-based IsoHunt is not only the first BitTorrent site to join the program, it is also the first website outside the United States to cooperate with the initiative. This decision was praised by Attorney General Cuomo.

“The profound impact of this groundbreaking initiative will reverberate not only in New York, but across the country and around the world,” said Cuomo as he welcomed isoHunt to the program. “This is all about protecting kids, and the same way child pornographers use technology to distribute these disturbing images, we are using technology to shut off their digital pipeline.”

IsoHunt’s collaboration with the Attorney General sheds an interesting light on the lawsuit against the MPAA its currently involved with. In this case, a court ordered isoHunt to implement a keyword filter based on film titles provided by the MPAA. IsoHunt appealed this decision, claiming that a keyword filter would result in too much collateral damage and instead suggesting that a filter based on unique and confirmed fingerprints (hashed) would be more effective.

Supporting the Motion For Stay, Gary Fung informed (pdf) the Ninth Circuit Appeal Court about his new partnership and why that is more effective. “…isoHunt is the only international participant in the Attorney General’s program. This program is efficient and workable because the Attorney General provides hashes, names and file sizes of content files (child pornography) in their possession.”

“With those three pieces of metadata, they can be used to narrow down content files, download, and then do a hash comparison for verification. Thus, using their data on content files, we can make a BitTorrent-compatible info_hash database for automated takedown in association.”

Instead of a keyword filter, Fung and his legal team suggest that a hash filter will prove more accurate and effective. Thus far, the Court has not asked the MPAA to provide torrent hashes, just keywords.

“The key to the system with the Attorney General’s office is access and ‘knowledge’ of content files, which Plaintiffs are not providing, have never provided and are not required to provide under the current Permanent Injunction in this case, insofar as identifying Plaintiffs’ content files with reasonable accuracy.”

“If Plaintiffs would provide the metadata for the content files for which they allegedly have copyrights, we could then perform a hash verification as we are doing with the Attorney General’s office,” Fung concluded.

It would be interesting to see what the Court does with this new information. Previously, Mininova implemented a similar hash filter for copyright holders but it was ordered to implement a more general keyword filter by a Dutch court nonetheless.

Despite the legal implications, it’s good to see that the New York Attorney General prefers to collaborate with a BitTorrent site instead of trying to take it offline because if could be used for nefarious purposes.

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