Quantcast

Microsoft Is Scanning Email for Child Porn Too

    August 7, 2014
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Google’s not the only one automatically scanning your communications for traces of child porn.

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after he attempted to send child porn via a live.com email address. The arrest came after Microsoft tipped the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the illegal images, which officials subsequently found in the man’s OneDrive account.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Like Google, Microsoft lets you know in its terms of service that automated processes are looking for child porn.

“In many cases Microsoft is alerted to violations of the Code of Conduct through customer complaints, but we also deploy automated technologies to detect child pornography or abusive behavior that might harm the system, our customers, or others,” says Microsoft.

Also, Microsoft has openly discussed this practice for years. This isn’t even the first instance of Microsoft alerting authorities to child porn. A little over a year ago, a Florida man was charged with 15 counts of child pornography possession after police found more the 3,000 images on his SkyDrive – thanks to a tip from Microsoft.

But the conversation has been ramped up recently, thanks to the recent bust of a Texas man for emailing child porn – a bust facilitated by a Google tip.

Google has spent the past few days explaining that their automated systems are looking for child porn, and only child porn.

“It is important to remember that we only use this technology to identify child sexual abuse imagery, not other email content that could be associated with criminal activity (for example using email to plot a burglary),” said Google in one of the best corporate statements ever.

Dedicated privacy hawks might argue that any sort of intrusion, whether well-intentioned or not, is unacceptable. But I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people are happy with child porn busts, and are ok with the automated scanning that facilitates them. Of course, this sentiment would quickly change if it turned out the scanning went far beyond this narrow scope. Other than ads, of course – we know Google scans message keywords to target ads.

Image via Microsoft


  • Bill

    Folks born before 1999 are probably the last to experience any semblance of privacy. With the rampant use of the internet and social media everything we do is being recorded and/or listened to somewhere, somehow. Whether it’s Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc scanning our communications for child porn and to learn how to market to us, everything we put on the internet is being reviewed. Consider Computer Canvassing – the technology that allows sites you visit to scan your computer for more information about you. Or the NSA, passing around intimate photos you thought you were sharing with your significant other. Our activities on-line are being watched, recorded, reviewed, shared – and nothing we do online is ever “private.” This lack of privacy will come back to haunt us…