The search giant alerted local law enforcement after detecting the allegedly illicit images in Skillern’s Gmail account, part of the company’s ongoing effort to root out child porn online. In doing so, it offered a glimpse of the vast power it wields over its users.
Federal law requires that Google and other tech companies report instances of child porn discovered on their services to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nonprofit group that maintains a database of URLs and file information associated with known child pornography.
Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and other companies like Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) go a step further by voluntarily policing their services, including search and email, for this material. The companies use algorithms to test whether the digital information encoded in images matches against the child pornography database at the NCMEC. More