The CNET Lounge forum

General discussion

Google tips off authorities: Justified or privacy invasion?

by kmadden2014 / August 5, 2014 4:27 AM PDT

To give this question some context read Chris Matyszczyk's article "Google sees alleged child porn in man's email, alerts police": http://www.cnet.com/news/google-sees-alleged-child-porn-in-mans-email-alerts-police/

Do you want Google to report criminal activities to the authorities?
-- Yes, the more involved, the better! This will help increase safety for everyone.
-- Yes, but with strictly defined limits on what kind of activity will be reported.
-- I'm torn.
-- No, but I acknowledge their right to do so.
-- No, next thing you know they will be reporting cheating spouses.
-- No, I believe this violates individual privacy.
-- Other. (Expand in comments).

Don't forget to vote in the poll: http://forums.cnet.com/2706-21566_102-2441.html


Message was edited by: kmadden2014 08/05/2014 11:38AM

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Google tips off authorities: Justified or privacy invasion?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Google tips off authorities: Justified or privacy invasion?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Next up. What's shipped may be opened up?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 5, 2014 4:51 AM PDT
Collapse -
Surrender your privacy and you will not get it back
by progan01 / August 5, 2014 7:26 AM PDT

Bow down before the One you serve
You're going to get what you deserve.

Collapse -
security???
by madkono / August 5, 2014 8:15 AM PDT

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Ben Franklin

Collapse -
We are free to choose the email service that we want
by msecour / August 5, 2014 8:25 AM PDT

I don't use gmail myself, but neither do I send anything via email that could get me into trouble. I certainly don't use email for sensitive communications. I applaud Google for uncovering a child pornographer and turning him in. It was the right thing to do.

Collapse -
we are free to choose the email we want.
by wllharrington / August 5, 2014 10:42 AM PDT

Gmail is free, if you don't like the restrictions or lack thereof find another free one,if you can.

Collapse -
Go for it Google, but within limits!
by johndeg / August 5, 2014 9:21 AM PDT

Of course we don't want child pornographers to evade the law. Google did nothing wrong here. In fact, as someone else pointed out, they probably are required to report this. We have laws, and we need to follow the laws. If we are willing to commit a crime, then we must be willing to pay the consequences.

That being said, Google, and other email providers, need to spell out exactly what they will and won't do in regards to scanning our email. As another article that I read about this pointed out, Google, and other companies, have hashes of known child pornography images. They simply compared those hashes to the hashes in Mr. Skillern's email, and when they found a match, they reported it. They aren't acting as the police, and arresting someone, they are simply reporting what they found. It is up to the police to investigate, and determine if a crime was committed.

In Chris' article, he states "my understanding is that a significant red flag that influenced Google was Skillern's previous history as a registered sex offender." I think that may be going too far, if that is true. It is NOT Google's job to see if someone is a registered sex offender before they report someone for emailing, or possessing, child pornography. If they find it, they just report it. The way Chris reported it, it makes it sound like if Skillern WASN'T a registered sex offender, then they wouldn't have reported it.

Collapse -
See a crime, report the crime. Photoshops do, banks do, etc.
by heymickr / August 5, 2014 9:24 AM PDT

When people see evidence of a crime they should report it. Crimes are not private matters. They are an assault on all of us. Bring child pornography to a photo shop or lab and expect a visit from the police (and it has always been so). Deposit more than $10,000 in cash in a bank without filling out the requisite government forms and you will be prosecuted. Why should a criminal who uses an "innocent" third party in his transaction be entitled to any privacy? There is absolutely nothing that should provide a person committing a criminal act with a safe haven to freely communicate any aspect of the crime and expect that his communication will remain private. Yes, I am aware of attorney-client privilege, spousal privilege and certain other communications that have been determined to be confidential for public policy reasons.

Collapse -
Giving Away Freedoms.
by feduchin / August 5, 2014 3:32 PM PDT

I am old(ish.) And over the years I have noticed a very concerning trend: People love to suggest new laws to control the evil-doers. BUT many people do not appear to realise the consequences.

Have you ever asked yourself "why is it sometimes so difficult to make a new law to control the crims?" Sometimes it seems so obvious that some pet law of yours just doesn't seem to get passed. Why? The reason is that nearly always the law-makers are mature enough to realise the consequence of that possible legislation.

For example, what could be wrong with making a law to allow the police to stop and search the car of every criminal for drugs? Seems obvious, right?

But, how is a policeman to know which cars are owned and run by a criminal? So if that law were enacted, it would have to allow the police to stop every car, right? Including all cars of law-abiding innocent citizens, just to check for drugs! And since no law could discriminate between types of cars and types of drivers (ask yourself, how could it?) then such a law would actually affect, disturb and annoy every one of us. We already have long lines of drivers awaiting their opportunity to "blow in the bag": imagine if the cops forced you to park in line awaiting the opportunity to have a needle stuck in you!

There are dozens of similar situations; situations that would impinge on our lives if every law that one thought was a good idea was not studied for how it would affect the average honest citizen.

We have to accept the fact that if we wish to live in a free society, then we have to put up with criminals freely living and freely doing their 'stuff' in that same society. If you are willing to curtail your freedoms, then, firstly ask everyone else if they also are willing to curtail theirs, and, secondly be prepared to put up with a much greater 'police state'.

What? "We already live in a police state" you say. I tell ya fella, if our lawmakers did not do their job of controlling what and how new laws were enacted, then as the saying goes "you ain't seen nothing' yet..."
As for Google reporting everything? HANDS OFF I say, we don't need another cop on the beat!
A minimum of laws allows us our freedom, warts and all: a maximum of laws jails every one of us.

Collapse -
What Freedoms?
by rbd67 / August 6, 2014 12:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Giving Away Freedoms.

Google is government's right hand and will do the dirty work. Catching child predators and terrorists the upside. Downside, abuse that u cannot even wrap your mind around. It is all about control of the masses and the money when politicians are involved. Corporate America and the Feds are in bed with each other.

Collapse -
I'd rather Google do it than govt
by James Denison / August 14, 2014 7:44 AM PDT
In reply to: What Freedoms?

Saves me tax money.

Collapse -
Google anything
by netsiu / August 5, 2014 11:41 PM PDT

This is why when Google came out with the gmail and the rest with the clause that they could use any and all for marketing and promotion I dumped everything that was google.
I do still use Googles search engine though I wish one of the others would put the money in to bring theirs up to compete status. I would switch in a heartbeat.
Feel the same about Microsoft Live.

To semi quote Obama We the Google have to rule the people because the little people don't know how to rule themselves.

Collapse -
get a private encryption key
by James Denison / August 14, 2014 7:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Google anything

send it to your friends with how to register it in their email program. Then you can send everything out encrypted and nothing to "view" along the way that's of any intelligence value, being decrypted only on the private computers of friends and family. Teach them to do the same and import their private keys into your email. This has been available in email programs for more than a decade at least.

Collapse -
Why Are You Worried?
by JTHannon / August 5, 2014 11:51 PM PDT

Only people doing something they're not supposed to be doing need to worry. The rest of you who are afraid of privacy invasion have been watching too many movies.

Collapse -
Why Do You Think You're Innocent?
by progan01 / August 7, 2014 3:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Why Are You Worried?

JTHannon: You obviously have something to hide, or you wouldn't be so eager to have other people examined. I think we need to look at your personal, financial, professional and especially your criminal activities to make sure you receive the proper punishment. Don't think that just because you say so, we have to believe you aren't a danger to the public and to the authorities. Even if you think you didn't do anything, it's very possible that you have done something that deserves punishment even if you don't remember it, or claim you don't. We'll find out what that is and make sure you pay the appropriate penalty. Innocence is not for you. Never for you.

Collapse -
I was taught that seeing a problem required, in a sense,

taking ownership of it as well. This was something we learned in the military, however, and related more to safety matters. In this case, I'd say it's a safety matter. Who, seeing a child locked in a hot car at the supermarket would just walk on by? Maybe I shouldn't ask that as I believe it happens more often than we might think. No one gets called to task unless something bad happens. Would you want to be the person who walked by that car and saw on the evening news that the child was dead? I'd say that deliberate snooping by Google would be wrong but an incidental discovery that could cause harm should not be ignored. Medical and teaching personnel are required to report suspected child abuse even if the discovery is made while not prying for it. As I understand it, a teacher who notices what looks like cigarette burns on a young students arms is required by law to call the authorities. What's really the difference if Google makes a similar discovery? None, IMO. Child porn is not a benign thing.

Collapse -
And now Microsoft.
by Dafydd Forum moderator / August 6, 2014 9:54 AM PDT
Collapse -
The Internet is a party line.
by Carsto / August 7, 2014 5:46 PM PDT

Once you signed the contract , you have no leg to stand on. You should have written the fine print. Then again, if you are not in the habit of posting child porn, what's the worry? What liberty makes murder OK? Ben Franklin did not live in this age. He lived when a close but unlatched door signalled privacy and it was respected. Now the only thing that does that is the wall you cannot break down.

Does the right to free speech make slanging and slurring OK? Refer the battle against school bullying where the most cruel aspect is expressed by speaking vile attacks.

Sad society we live in where the right thing is done only while gibbering in fear of some big stick. Then again, there is no fear even of a big stick anymore. Old story of one rotten apple in a basket.

What is so gloriously private when you have nothing to hide? It is not the invasion you fear, but the cruelty of it. This has come about because we do not trust each other anymore. We no longer adhere to a common tenet of decency. Worst of all, we don't know where the filth is hidden. Refer Popular Mechanics, July 2014, Lies and Liars, p78.

The problem with civil rights is that you can take it in your own hands, which is the norm today. And yet it is a very unsuccessful panacea to individual police brutality that was coined as a government ailment. How's that for solution by avoidance? It causes more problems every day. The Bill of Rights forces us to respect each other. It also implies a general thoroughgoing lack of respect and decency in all of us. How's that for a bad attitude and a lack of incisive thinking?

The problem with all laws is shown in a children's game. They play together until one cannot come up with a solution to the others' capabilities or some perceived slight. He stops the game and makes a new rule. The others only have to play the holes in the rule and he loses again. It is in our nature to surmount challenges and nothing sinister to it either. This is the trap we fell into. Decency, civility, honour and all the rest of it should not be matters of discipline. They aren't. They are matters of integrity and we lost that, or rather, threw it away because if was old fashioned. Now we sit with these problems. Worse, we stupidly ask; "How did it happen, how did we get here"? Nice. Clever.

Mother knew best, it seems.

There's a big rethink necessary, methinks.

Collapse -
The world is a community -- are you?
by progan01 / August 8, 2014 2:31 AM PDT

Carsto, I've read your post, trying to make sense of it, and I have come to the conclusion that you do not interact enough with people to understand what privacy, dignity, freedom, justice or even community actually means.

I don't think you understand the way a society functions, or the essential difference between the individual and the result when all these individuals get together and try to live, do business, pursue commercial enterprises or private interests or just help make the community work together better. You don't seem to understand what 'privacy' means in a social context and you don't seem to understand what happens when it is violated. You don't seem to have any understanding that when people pry into each others's private lives, they end up feeling both superior and besmirched, fouled by the knowledge of other peoples's dirtiness and sanctimonious about their own perceived cleanliness. Or how any of this affects the way we live together, or how it can degrade a society to the point where all it does is scrutinize itself for defects or other reasons to bring down consequences.

Society is not a children's game, as even a cursory reading of history should make clear. The process of making rules for living together is much more complex, and far more delicate, than you seem to want to believe it does. As such, I think you're not in a position to tell any of us what needs to be done regarding privacy or the protection thereof. I don't see anything in your post that tells me you have the faintest idea of what you're talking about.

Perhaps if you lived anywhere at all besides a computer screen, things would be different. As it is, I don't see that you have added anything at all to this discussion -- except, for those of us aware of such things, the profound realization that some people are not members of the society in which they dwell, not that this keeps them from criticizing the way the world doesn't play like a game or his personal household. That such as you are involved in a discussion you do not realize is far above your ability to comprehend is something the rest of us must keep in mind, so that we are not thrown off our sensibilities by the truly hermetic.

Collapse -
Just checked Google's AUP
by Steven Haninger / August 11, 2014 10:40 PM PDT

From what I can tell, this incident is within bounds. I'd think anyone with an acceptable use policy has a right to make sure it's being adhered to and enforced as necessary. Anyone who'd abuse the service in this manner is, IMO, foolish and downright stupid in using it for anything illegal. The same would go if someone solicited something illegal on a bulletin board anywhere. Anyone who sees evidence that a person might be in danger should, at least, feel a moral obligation to intervene in some manner.

Collapse -
Google is a proxy secret police spy service
by progan01 / August 12, 2014 6:36 AM PDT

Missing the point there, Steve.

Google itself turned in John Henry Skillern. Nobody saw the mail other than they -- unless it was the addressee as well, who isn't reported to be in jail, probably because somebody asked this not be made news.

Google has voluntarily offered up its services as internal security for the nation. As such, its morality comes into question. This isn't the act of a morally outraged individual. It's corporate policy to nark on its users. You are right that people are on notice that anything Google deems harmful will be acted upon -- one of the reasons I don't use it, and why I specifically warn people away from it. It's a nark service, not a mail engine, and their interest in your privacy is easily blown away by the value of what they might find in your mail.

In Skillern's case, it was child porn images that let Google burnish its image as the defender of community values, helping you forget that this doesn't happen with common carriers. If UPS or DHL or Fedex decided to open suspicious packages and report them to law enforcement, there would be screaming. In the case of Google, they're being praised for having snooped. I find that disgusting on the face of it.

But maybe you like having somebody else go through your pockets and listen to your phone calls and read your mail to make sure you don't do anything bad. Thoughtcrime needs to be stamped out, right? And so 'do no evil' becomes not a company slogan, but a mandate for its users. You watch your butt. Because Google stands ready to turn you in, yessir. Just like you want.

Collapse -
This isn't about a single incident but a culture
by Steven Haninger / August 12, 2014 10:08 AM PDT

Your posts are directed to other members but are subject to review by owners of the site or their own proxies. Post here that you've just robbed a bank and left the teller dead and see if you can expect your confession to remain confidential.

Collapse -
Indeed
by progan01 / August 12, 2014 12:30 PM PDT

It's no longer about your posts but you, personally, Steve, and what you do, what you're thought to be doing, what people believe you're doing regardless of the evidence, and the way you can be prosecuted in a court of law and persecuted by the wired public for what they are certain you did.

It's bad enough that there's official and now private snooping going on. What's worse is that this stinking mess of sanctimonious snooping is driven by people like you who are certain their spit don't stink. You have no idea how the present abuse can derange and deform your life, as it deforms and deranges the lives of others, and when it happens to YOU, because of things you didn't see coming, I pray you don't come whining back here saying you didn't deserve it. Because you did. You totally did. You wanted a world where people kept tabs on your wrongness and you got gigged for it -- what other result did you expect? That you would be found INNOCENT?

If people didn't believe you were already doing wrong they wouldn't be tracking your every move to catch you at it. It's not what you think you're doing -- it's what everybody else thinks you're doing. You don't control that, Steve. At all. Or did you never grow out of the infantile delusion that if you close YOUR eyes, other people can't see you?

Have fun in the basement of the Ministry of Love. Or the NSA; same thing.

Collapse -
Sorry but a person stoops to insulting someone...
by Steven Haninger / August 12, 2014 10:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Indeed

...especially someone they don't actually know, or know only by a few words typed, I consider their argument invalid. You're welcome to the last word if you wish. Have fun.

Collapse -
Rely deleted
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 13, 2014 5:33 PM PDT

Reply deleted for the use of inappropriate language in direct contravention of Forum Policy.

Mark

Collapse -
Warning
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 12, 2014 10:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Indeed

Your post above.

It is offensive. The language you use is inappropriate and the tone of your post borders on abusive. Your post contravenes Forum Policy.

I have not yet read your other posts.

Posts that contravene Forum Policy will be considered for deletion.

Please reconsider your replies in future.

Mark

Collapse -
Self-destruction is offensive
by progan01 / August 13, 2014 1:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Warning

The problem, Mark, as I made clear to user Carsto, is that we have a great many people who have no idea of the perils involved when other persons begin to read your private correspondence -- especially when it is a private entity who ought to be operating as a common carrier, not as a freelance detective agency.

These persons mindlessly advocate such snooping in the arrogant belief that they will never be the subject of such, because they think they lead blameless lives. History shows that what you think is blameless and the people who access your private life thinks is blameless are two different things, and the people who snoop, expecting to find dirt, will find it, and will use it, and the result is neither pleasant nor edifying.

I am not responsible for people being stupid. But I am responsible for pointing out that such stupidity endangers us all -- including you and your organization, if you haven't made the connection yet. I will continue to make sure that people whose conduct threatens our lives are so informed. If you think that violates your policy, well, perhaps detention by the authorities for a few days while they vet your life for evidence of actionable wrong-doing will change your mind. But I have no faith it will.

Collapse -
Forum Policy
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 13, 2014 5:23 PM PDT
http://forums.cnet.com/forums-usage-policies/

CNET is dedicated to developing and maintaining a friendly online community, where members of all ages and technical backgrounds feel relaxed and comfortable. Like any community, CNET has certain standards. When members join our forums, they agree to abide by these rules. To remain a part of the CNET's community, members must be considerate to others. Repeated violations of these standards may result in a member being barred from entry or participation in the community forums.

Inappropriate language
The use of inappropriate or offensive language is not permitted in these forums. Inappropriate or offensive language includes, but is not limited to, any language or content that is sexually oriented, sexually suggestive or abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, profane, hateful, or that contains racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable material of any kind. We ask that you please be considerate to other members in the forums when posting your messages.

Harassment and flaming
CNET members are not permitted to harass or "flame" other members. Please do not post or transmit any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, profane, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable material of any kind, including, but not limited to, any material which encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, violate the rights of others, or otherwise violate any applicable local, state, national or international law. Please note that this also includes the posting of taunts (trolling) in a forum solely for the purpose of deriding that forum's topic and/or members.

Other general rules of conduct
You shall not post on these forums any Content which (a) is libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, abusive, harassing or threatening, (b) contains viruses or other contaminating or destructive features, (c) violates the rights of others, such as Content which infringes any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret or violates any right of privacy or publicity, or (d) otherwise violates any applicable law. You may not post on these forums any links to any external Internet sites that are obscene or pornographic. You shall not use these forums for any commercial purpose, to distribute any advertising or solicitation of funds or goods and services or to solicit users to join competitive online services.

Banning of users
CNET reserves the right at its sole discretion to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to any part of these forums. If you violate any of the rules stated in this document or any other terms of use documents, the offending messages will be removed. Any member who violates our policies and refuses to comply with the policies of these forums will be banned. For more information, please read CBS Interactive's Site Terms of Use.

======================================

That is CBC/CNET's policy setting out how members are required to behave in these forums. You agreed to abide by these rules. To remain a part of the CNET's community, members must be considerate to others. Repeated violations of these standards may result in a member being barred from entry or participation in the community forums.

Mark
Collapse -
Inability to respond
by progan01 / August 14, 2014 3:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Forum Policy

CNET is unable to respond to me effectively because the language I use points out an uncomfortable and unpleasant reality. You can't find anything in my posts that would specifically allow you to ban me except the very concepts I am trying to make clear, to wit: Permitting third parties to read private correspondence, for whatever reason, destroys privacy, emboldens those who value control over all other things, and destroys the very reputation of liberty in favor of repression and silencing.

This is inimical to free inquiry, so vital to scientific and material progress and to the creation of a strong and vibrant community that guarantees our ability to speak out on issues. Wherever it is found, it must be opposed, in the name of freedom, democracy and civilization.

Freedom, unfortunately, is under siege by its traditional enemies of privilege and power, aided by an army of easily-angered but not very bright people who think the best thing to do with people they don't like is to silence them. What this discussion has highlighted has been that there are quite a few people whose experience with repression is so limited they think that silencing people is a Good Thing. They would happily live in their bunkers, detached from the public discourse on liberty, proudly advocating reading everybody's mail to make sure those other people (never themselves! oh no!) to make sure they are sanctioned and punished, to their general amusement and entertainment.

This attitude is specious, hostile to liberty, and dangerous to a free people. And it's a truth you just don't like hearing. It tires you. It flies in the face of your smug isolation and disgusting sense of entitlement that tells you that you will never be subject to the same sort of invasion and denouncement. You are wrong. Persist in your ways and you will pay a price you cannot conceive of paying.

And guess what? It won't be my doing. And that, I suppose, angers you more than anything else.

Collapse -
You made it personal.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 14, 2014 3:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Inability to respond

"but you, personally, Steve" and such. Your reply here is fine but making it personal can cross that fuzzy line.

-> Check me out as I post about Russia, TOR, TAILS, Linux and how the NSA is calling users of Linux, TAILS, TOR and readers of the Linux Journal "extremists."

Hey, I hear you.
Bob

Collapse -
Just a tip, FWIW
by Steven Haninger / August 14, 2014 7:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Inability to respond

There are no wrong opinions. Wrong answers...Yes. Opinions...No. If the purpose of debate or expressing one's own opinion is the hope that other people will adopt your thinking, the worst way to go about achieving this is to treat them with contempt. What you'll accomplish is reinforcement of the other person's own opinion. Look at the loony behavior of many protesters as the jump up and down, shout obscenities, etc. Should their tantrums be rewarded? Not in my book. Treating another person with respect goes a long way in allowing a conversation to continue. Just my opinion...

Popular Forums
icon
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
icon
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
icon
Laptops 21,181 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
icon
Phones 17,137 discussions
icon
Security 31,287 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
icon
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
icon
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

CNET FORUMS TOP DISCUSSION

Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?