Google Scans Your Email for Child Porn
FILE- In this April 17, 2007 file photo, exhibitors of the Google company work on laptop computers in front of an illuminated sign of the Google logo at the industrial fair Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany. Google is starting to accept requests from Europeans who want to erase unflattering information from the results produced by the world's dominant search engine. The demands can be submitted on a Web page that Google opened late Thursday, May 29, 2014, in response to a landmark ruling issued two weeks ago by Europe's highest court. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)
Google reported child pornography found in a convicted sex offender's Gmail account, causing many to speculate that Google scan its email for offending images, according to reports.
Google reported John Henry Skillem, a convicted sex offender, after the tech company found images of child pornography and reported the information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the Telegraph. The images of a young girl were found by an automated search and a police investigation by the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force led to an arrest.
"He was keeping it inside of his email. I can't see that information, I can't see that photo, but Google can. He was trying to get around getting caught, he was trying to keep it inside his email," Detective David Nettles told Channel 11. "I really don't know how they do their job. But I'm just glad they do it.".
Google declined to tell the Telegraph how it conducts searches or give any details on the case, but it's safe to assume that the tech company looks and flags material it deems to be illegal or dangerous. It's also known that Google's automated search works by "hashes", or unique codes, of known images of child sexual abuse. If the file has those similar codes, it likely is illegal content, according to the Telegraph.
Should this be raising privacy concerns? While many people wouldn't consider searching for child porn as a privacy violation, it can lead to other searches. How hard could it be when Google is already conducting automated searches for specific content? Google has already been searching email to target advertising, so this news shouldn't be surprising to anyone.