When a child sex offender gets cuffed, bundled into a wagon and taken as far away from decent society as possible, exactly what led to their arrest really shouldn’t matter. The fact that they’re no longer allowed to prey on children should be the only cause for concern of all and one that’s likely to be near-universally celebrated.
However, when Henry Skillern was booked by Texas police having been found by Google to be sharing indecent images of children by email, the matter stirred up a fair bit of controversy. Google tipped off the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, Skillern’s home was raided and all manner of indecent images were found across his Smartphone and tablet PC. They even found disturbing text messages on his phone pretty much laying bear his fixation with kids – one more monster off the treats and one less threat to our kids.
So really – what’s the problem?
Well, as far as those with a bee in their collective bonnet ate concerned, it all comes down to the fact that Google is reading and doing whatever the heck it wants to with our emails. Worrying enough, but if Google suddenly decides to start playing a role in lawmaking and becomes some kind of trusted resource of the authorities, what happens when…not it…an unfair allegation is made?
A family member for example sending photos of their new baby girl out in the garden’s paddling pool for the first time – Google picks up the images that could be interpreted totally the wrong way and suddenly things take a rather sinister turn. Of course, logic would say that when this happens it would be up to Google to investigate the matter properly before tipping off the authorities, but this would mean personally rifling through your emails and those of your contacts to find out who you are, what you’ve been up to and what your intentions are.
Now we’re heading into the realms of way too much snooping that few would approve of.
In this instance the result has been a tremendous one – a convicted sex offender once again being put out of harm’s way and ridding the streets of another vile creature. But should this whole process become another arm of Google’s ongoing expansion and rise to total global power, it really won’t be long before you’re finding yourself worrying about how any given line, picture or reference in your email might be misinterpreted by a Google email scanner.