Personal information and where it can be accessed on the internet is a common concern for people. Although this idea may threaten you it also protect us against people taking advantage of others.
A story broke at the weekend in the US about a man who was arrested for possession of underage sexual images. The strange thing about this disturbing story was how he actually got caught.
The man from Houston was sending emails with attached pictures to other people. Google scans all images attached to emails coming in and going out of Gmail, their free email service. They came across the images and tipped off the authorities. Now do you applaud this capture of personal information or worry about what personal information Google are harvesting from your email?
Google acknowledges that it does capture personal information
Whilst it might surprise many people that Google are analysing your emails and online storage, they did publicly change the terms of service in 2013 to say that they would be doing so as part of their fight against online child sexual abuse, which they have been battling since 2006.
The scanning works with both an algorithmic function that looks for flesh tones within images and then human viewing to determine whether it is innocent or not. The technique is carried out by Google and others all across the web to identify and tag images, shut down websites and present evidence to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Without hesitation it is a tremendous thing that Google have caught this man in the act, and hopefully the people he was emailing will now also be investigated; but what about all the innocent images that pass the eyes of complete strangers? How do you feel about the beach photos you were sending to a family member that someone is now looking over? Uncomfortable I bet.
It has already been revealed by Edward Snowden that members of the NSA would ‘pass’ round certain images like a perk of the job. Now we know that even more people have eyes on our private information. Where does it stop?
Is it safe to send, receive or store any data these days?
Billions of images are uploaded everyday to social media sites and shared via apps. Who has access to these you might ask yourself. Is my entire life available for people to see?
There is no doubting that technology is advancing quickly enough that computers are becoming intelligent enough to scan images, and have a rough idea of what they are looking at. Of course there are benefits of this, but should you start to question as to what ‘free’ services you use? Perhaps spend a little more time looking at the terms and conditions.
If you have any queries about whether or not your business’ personal information could be at threat then feel free to contact us and one of our members of staff will be happy to help you solve the issue.