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Google gets a man arrested after detecting child porn in his email

  1. A Houston man named John Henry Skillern was arrested after Google alerted authorities about illegal photos of children in his Gmail account. The 41-year-old, who works at a Denny's restaurant in Pasadena, is a registered sex offender, convicted of sexually assaulting...

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  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,154   +1,429

    Google's sniffing inside your emails without any authorization is despicable.

    It reminds me to dump their email service once and for all. The amount of spam falling into it has been overwhelming anyway.
     
  3. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,457   +606

    Freedom is no longer the currency of the realm.
     
  4. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Guru Posts: 752   +273

    Without any authorization? Have you seen the ToS to say that? (Besides the fact that they own the servers for their free email service...)
     
    insect likes this.
  5. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 854   +339

    On the other side, it's good that they arrested him if he owns children porn, but it's also bad that Google is spying on him and everyone, then they talk about privacy.
     
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,701   +1,886

    I'm hoping they busted the person that sent the Email as well.

    Since we don't know all of the information / back story, isn't it possible, (if only at least remotely), someone is trying to frame him?

    I've never heard of, "child porn spam", but who knows what they're cooking up with bot nets these days.

    In any case , proffers for "penis enlargement pills", seems to be a favorite spam topic. And while that is casting a wide net for 50% of the population, who knows if someone will generate spam for a more specialized set of tastes.
     
  7. The level of ignorance in these comments is hilarious. Google knew what was in the pictures due to the exif information. Every picture uploaded to the web has a unique identifier. Google has spent years cataloging images online. Hence its ability to suppress child porn pictures. In general Google has no idea what the picture is inside your email is.
     
    Jamesbrah likes this.
  8. Could you post some alternatives to gmail please
    I dont use my email to send nudes but I dont want to be a part of google anymore
     
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,752   +1,107

    Do you complain about your privacy when you walk into a store because they have a security camera? Obviously not, because we understand that the store has a right to protect themselves against crime. What happens when Google gets sued for allowing criminal activity? Can they really use 'we value our customer's privacy over the exploitation of children' as a defense? No one would buy that.

    Look at Kim Dotcom and MegaUpload.com. Their service was used for criminal activity and no amount 'that wasn't our intent' BS was enough to convince anyone otherwise.

    Google is protecting themselves (and the kids!), and rightfully so. They'd much rather have the business of the millions of normal people in the world than protect the few weirdos.
     
    Skidmarksdeluxe, insect and Hexic like this.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,701   +1,886

    The EXIF information doesn't extend itself to subject matter. It tells you exposure, lens used,,( if a zoom the focal length at the time of capture), number of shutter activations to date, plus the make and , model of the camera.

    It's a fairly long list, but even the best DSLRs don't tell the exact subject matter. Even red eye compensation, doesn't discriminate via determining the present status of the person being photographed. So, a photo of a child blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, and a child being sexually abused would likely show very similar EXIF data (*), all other camera involved data being equal.

    I would go so far as to say Google knew those were photographs were child porn, and possibly has software such as facial recognition, possibly even compromising position recognition software, but that's in addition to EXIF, not from it. It could simply be a matter of the IP addresses of both sender and recipient being on a watch list.

    (*) And both would have the red eye effect removed, assuming flash was used, and the correction was turned on at the camera.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  11. Hexic

    Hexic TS Addict Posts: 283   +132

    ^ this.

    And you give them authorization when you accept the terms of service. It isn't Google's fault that one doesn't take the time to read the agreement they're clicking 'accept'on.

    It reminds me vaguely of the 'humancentipad' episode from south park.. along with a touch of Idiocracy.
     
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,701   +1,886

    I know, right? It's like they're predicting the US will become a dystopia 50 years from now, when it already has been one, like for the past couple of decades.:oops:
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  13. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,457   +606

    Thats a nice heartwarming story about Google doing the right thing. Maybe next time they infiltrate your email to checkup on what your doing to make sure its nothing bad, they can send me some pictures of your girlfriend in a thong to make their troubles worthwhile. By the sounds of it you won't care.
    :)
    Listen, I understand that with Gmail's small letters they grant themselves access to scan users emails... you are agreeing to their terms of service. (Talking about a certain services fineprint like Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook etc is an entirely different topic on its own)
    Invasion of privacy is what I am talking about, its wrong and in most cases, unlawful. And did you just say Google can get sued for allowing criminal activity? LOL. Thats so ridiculous on so many levels I'm not wasting a sentence addressing it.

    It's called LIFE. It's called FREEDOM.
    You take the good with the bad in a free environment. You can't force people to do and act certain ways without removing the most basic of civil liberties and 'natural rights'.
    How would you like if it the police came to your house and scanned through, read and examined everything in your mailbox everyday? Thats called COMMUNISM.

    Civilians are entitled to their privacy (well, used to be), as long as they aren't hurting anyone else, NO, I don't have an issue with it. I'd rather that dude be at home on his PC 'getting it out of his system' then be 'plugged up' at the local park.

    There is nothing more dangerous then a horny guy with no internet.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  14. Jack Meoffski

    Jack Meoffski TS Booster Posts: 49   +35

    Google is also a puppet for the NSA. Don't be fooled when they deny it.
     
  15. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    ^

    1) You agree to ToS.
    2) No one is "reading your emails". There are millions per second. Google is using Robots to crawl them for keywords and image recognition. None of that information is kept unless enough red flags go up.
    3) The government cannot just "have your emails" in the U.S. They must get a warrant from a judge which requires probable cause of a violation of the law. Stop being paranoid and learn due process.
    4) Google owns the servers. Anything you do with/on their property is theirs alone. You are allowed access to what they own by agreeing to the ToS. "My e-mail" is a misnomer. Don't want that? Setup your own e-mail server.

    Think of it this way:
    Random Guy 1: I want to come into your house and let my son use the bathroom.
    You: Ok, but don't steal, don't take nudy pics, and flush when you're done. (ToS)
    RG1: Ok
    * you check on guy in bathroom to see if everything is alright and hear odd non-bathroom noises (red flag goes up); You open the door to check*
    You: I SAID NO NUDY PICS! I'm calling the cops!
    RG1: WHAT?! I had the right to privacy in YOUR bathroom!

    Now do you see why the all of the arguments in this thread are nonsense?
     
    Alpha Gamer and MilwaukeeMike like this.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,555   +2,899

    I don't know about all of them, but yours is among them.
     
    Darkshadoe likes this.
  17. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    Care to explain?
     
  18. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,555   +2,899

    The guy was convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1994. If looking at photos is all this guy wants to do, what is the harm in that. If we were going to prosecute, we should have done it when he actually committed the crime.

    What has happened here is a convicted arsonist was arrested for watching a building burn. Instead of going after the one that set the building on fire, they are arresting all the spectators that were convicted of the offense in the past.
     
  19. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    He was convicted and served a sentence. He is also on the registered sex-offenders list for life which means he has restrictions on where he can live, has to regularly check in on his whereabouts, and his name is publicly listed on websites for anyone to see what, when, and how he did what he did (which means neighbors too). There are several articles on the web about registered sex offenders being harassed, beaten, etc. because of being on the list. IMO, it's worse than prison.

    Also, possessing and distributing child pornography (which is evident by the media he had the pictures in), whether the originator or not, is a crime in the U.S. The harm in him looking at it is that there is incentive for someone to produce it and sell it for a living. I hope I don't have to explain why that is bad to you also.

    If people got their jollies off watching buildings burn and they paid someone to burn buildings so they could watch, then yes, fire-watching would be a crime. There have been few instances of this and they are usually caught when the arsonists turn them in. It's call conspiracy to commit arson, a crime.

    It also seems you focused on the 'taking pictures' part of my analogy instead of the larger metaphor, which is that someone was doing something on someone else's property and then expected to have privacy. If the world worked this way then we could all walk around naked doing whatever we wanted to because it would always be 'in private'.
     
    Alpha Gamer likes this.
  20. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    I was under the impression that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act basically thumbs it's nose at the fourth amendment of the constitution. A judge's warrant is still likely needed, but if you don't know who the judge is, the parameters of the warrant, or why it was requested, and the whole court process "Classified" how much oversight can there be?

    The other issue with government surveillance in general is that the snooping agency just inundates the court system with requests and the judiciary either faces massive backlog or it passes warrants with more cursory and widespread process. The same can be said for intelligence gathering in general - collect enough with as many agencies possible (preferably with a convoluted horizontal or compartmentalized reporting structure) and overwhelm any oversight administration.
     
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,701   +1,886

    The law, as to where the bar is set regarding, "child pornography", is constantly being lowered, at the caprice of individual judges, and lobbied for lowering even further vigorously, by right to life and other such ultra right wing religious/conservative groups. In short, for appearances sake, we are reverting to Puritanism.

    It's the same issue as year after year, the same groups attempt to re-legislate, "Roe v. Wade", when it's a done deal, Supreme Court Decision. Yet new court, new administration, different phase of the moon, they try time and again

    In the most hypocritical sense, some of the ultra conservative factions are convinced it's OK to marry several under age women, knock them all up at once, but rail against showing a bit of camel toe on every woman under 65

    In any case, any such declaration of "child pornography", never seems to distinguish between the, "eight year old girl with a goat", or a "17 year old woman in a pair of wet panties".

    I still think you have to set realistic limits, on what you're going to overlook.

    If a former sex offender, is reduced to looking at girls underwear ads in a Sears catalog in private, then I'd say a cure has been effected. As soon as the naked cowboy in chaps comes in to the room riding a billy goat, well that's a whole 'nuther story......Er I mean, "whoa Nelly"! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  22. Imagine what if you are a very important person on this planet and google could just get u arrested by puting some child porn in your gmail account. So handy for the gov to get rid of some people.
     
  23. Ghost410

    Ghost410 TS Rookie

    Is it OK for Ford Motor Company to compare your speed to the posted speed and send the information to the cops for say the automatic generation of a ticket? Would you still buy their cars?

    I could care less what happens to the individual in question, but the arguments about protecting children are emotional knee jerks and have little to do with how we manage information in what is supposed to be a free society. No.. it isn't too late to do something about it. In this case, stop using Google products and let both Google and their advertisers know know why. Just write it in Gmail.. Google will know.

    Finally, want absolute law and order at the price of personal freedoms? That would be one of the foundations of Fascism. No, don't get excited.. this is OK and there are some appealing points in Fascism just like there are in any historically popular line of reasoning. However, I much prefer personal freedoms and I'm willing to put up with some risk, chaos, and impacts to law and order in support of them.
     
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,701   +1,886

    Well, we're about halfway there. Most everything you do with you're new car, does get sent back to the manufacturers anyway. In fact, "Progressive", will let you "save money on your car insurance", (ostensibly), if you let them jamb their spyware gadget / electronic backseat driver, up your diagnostic port.


    God, I would love to put on my jackboots and march along with this, soooo tempting...............Oh, never mind. I'll try and behave.
     
  25. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    There's some missing facts about this case that can be found in the actual news report
    This guy wasn't the victim of spam. Nor did he happen to just receive an email from someone else. He was the one sending the picture of an underage girl to a friend.
    And while he wasn't charged for the videos of young children eating at Denny's, I'm damn glad he was busted on other charges: "possession" and "promoting" child pornography
     

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