I recently got a question from a user that I'm not quite certain how to answer. Basically I run a service that will allow users to submit content for analysis. The data submitted is very rarely stored, but we will typically log one piece of content every so often for debugging purposes.

We are not presenting this to anybody externally, but would be storing it. Someone recently asked if we allowed the analysis of child pornography. (one of the services we offer is pornography detection, though it's clearly not meant for this purpose).

I have no idea how to answer this question. Are we liable for the content that our users submit if we aren't displaying it? Does anyone have experience with this?

Generally it's not possible for us to know what our users submit so this isn't so much an issue, but in this case in particular the user directly asked.

  • 1
    I imagine that since your service helps in detection, there's a great chance you're getting some of it already thought third-parties trying to avoid illegal content. I think your best bet is to consult a lawyer, since it gets trickier if you say you detect it and then you don't. Even trickier if you store it for debugging.
    – Alpha
    Dec 7, 2015 at 9:17

2 Answers 2


Nope, nope and nope.

Why would someone put a child pornography into a service that sole purpose is content analysis? It wouldn't go through. But, srsly, don't go on that road. It's illegal content, so you got your answer in the word ILLEGAL.

And I think that I don't need to remind you how community is sensitive in this particular case.

  • So, part of content analysis is recognizing pornography. Presumably they're using it to filter this kind of content from their own site. Again, this isn't something that will actually be displayed anywhere, and isn't something that we can stop people from doing. I'm more interested in where the legal liability lies and if we have to add something to our terms of use or something similar. Nov 30, 2015 at 16:12

Simply state that it is your legal and ethical duty to uphold the integrity of your company by not affiliating yourself either directly or indirectly with any form of illegal activity (child pornography is illegal no matter where in the world you are).

Refuse his business, if he's provided you with an email address or you have his IP address or anything of the sort block him by any means necessary. Save yourself from being in an awkward situation where you have to either go and report this douche and have computer forensics detectives fumbling around your servers, or worse yet - ending up complicit in his bad deeds by not reporting it soon enough out of dread of the former..

Bottom line walls up - keep him out

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