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Computer virus reports suspected child pornography

from the automated-accusations dept.
The New York Times reports ("Virus Searches for Pornography", by R. Furchgott, 11 June 2001) on a rogue computer program which searches computers for what it suspects may be child pornography and reports file names to the police, has raised legal questions and seems sure to fuel the debate over privacy.

4 Responses to “Computer virus reports suspected child pornography”

  1. pethorne Says:

    Maintaining distributed systems with viri

    I once read a book (dated early '90s IIRC) on computer viruses by one of the early researchers in the field. He posited that viruses (ie small, mobile, replicating programs with access to the filesystem) — usually considered invasive and destructive — could be applied to useful ends in system administration.

    (I can't recall the title/author now, but if anyone's interested I can check my logs. It might have been _Virus Informatics_ by Richard B. Levin.)

    This seems absurd on a single machine or a well-organized institutional network — the sysadmin can just run a cron job.

    However, it might be applicable IMHO to a heterogenous, dynamic, peer-to-peer network, one in which hosts are continually connecting and separating. –For example, the many distributed computing and filesharing systems released or proposed over the past three years: Napster, Gnutella, SETI@home, or Mojo Nation.

    Application 1: Each host needs to keep its software updated. Rather than users manually downloading and installing patches and entirely new apps, the software arrives on its own — possibly following the usage and traffic patterns to hit the most important nodes first.

    Application 2: on a filesharing system like Mojo Nation, a file is divided and replicated across multiple hosts, with no single index server. If a file owner needed to fix a file, something like a virus (or an "agent", which is mobile but doesn't replicate) would be needed to track down all the copies.

    Of course, there's a downside. (Eg the aforementioned child porn-searching virus that invades *private* filesystems; a "busybody program" to coin a term.) I mention these positive possibilities only to invite thought and discussion.

  2. genomik Says:

    Should use for anti-terrorism, not porn.

    This is a technology that probably, inevitably will be used for surveillance. Dont cry wolf with this. It is a serious technology & should only be used for most serious issues, like terrorism with WOMD. Child porn, while wrong & reprehensible, should not be addressed with such methods. Even if we dislike this technology, it will still be used, so lets use it for the worst.

  3. bob Says:

    it is gross and a watste of time find people your own age freaks

  4. Says:

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