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Google hacks man's email to locate child porn

Here's an interesting story about how Google can turn in people for what they look at on the Internet. Google reportedly generated a cyber-tip that was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently, and that led to the arrest of a 41-year-old man based in Houston. He had allegedly been in possession of child pornography.

It's not clear how Google obtained the information it did, but it claims it found explicit images of a young female that the man had been sending to a friend. Once Google had that information, it contacted authorities. Police reported that the man had been using his emails to hide the images, which makes it impossible for the officers to see without a warrant. However, Google does have the ability to see into users' emails.

Reports state that the man reported was a registered sex offender. He had previously been convicted of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old male in 1994. Police were later able to obtain a search warrant due to the Google tip, which led to them finding child porn on the man's tablet and phone. He had allegedly also been talking about his interest in children in emails and text messages. The man now faces one count of possession of child pornography and one count of the promotion of child pornography.

When asked about the technology Google used, the company wouldn't answer. It does make you question how much they can see, even when police and the authorities are unable to access your information. Google may have access based on their user agreements, but when faced with a situation like this, it's important to make sure the information was obtained legally.

Source: KHOU, "Houston man charged with child porn possession after Google cyber-tip" Tim Wetzel, Jul. 30, 2014

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Law Offices of Frank Jackson
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