We all know that our Gmail inboxes are scanned, and that Google uses automated image scanning to track down child exploitation — but it’s now been made clear the two overlap: searches of a Gmail inbox have led the arrest of a registered sex offender who has illegal photos of children in his email account.
News reports explain that Google identified the images and told the police. While that only led to the cops obtaining a warrant at first, they were then able to discover images that they would otherwise not have known about. What’s interesting is that the offender didn’t leave a trace elsewhere online: there was no suspicious activity anywhere other than within his Gmail inbox, so Google was the only organisation placed to identify his behaviour. (Or perhaps the NSA, but they’re probably busy thinking about other things.)
While some may question the privacy implications of the news — it wasn’t, perhaps, before now widely understood that Google scanned Gmail images — it’s not in the least surprising. And, in this case, it seems like an incredibly worthwhile application of such a practice. [KHOU via Business Insider via Engadget]