Google Helps Bust A Child Pornographer Through A Picasa Library Search

The police arrested a California man for possession of child pornography, thanks to information that Google provided about his Picasa library, according to a
CBS Sacramentoreport we first saw on
The Verge.

Picasa is Google’s service for storing, editing, and sharing photos online, and this arrest reveals that Google can scan even private Picasa libraries, which are not publicly available. From Picasa, police later say they found 3,000 pornographic pictures of children on his mobile phone.

Google says that it doesn’t search through personal libraries indiscriminately, but performs automated searches for specific “image fingerprints” that have been flagged by law enforcement.

If its searches turn up any suspicious activity, an employee will check the content to make it’s not something innocent, like pictures of kids at bath time, and then share the information with law enforcement or watchdog groups like The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children.

Google’s plan to crackdown on child pornography has been much-discussed as of late, but this case raises concern for privacy advocates about Google’s access to private consumer data.

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