The man was a registered sex offender, convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1994, reports Tim Wetzel at KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston.
"He was keeping it inside of his email. I can't see that information, I can't see that photo, but Google can," Detective David Nettles of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce told Channel 11.
After Google reportedly tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the center alerted police, who used the information to get a warrant.
A search of the man's other devices revealed more suspicious images and text messages. Police arrested him and he's being held on a $200,000 bond.
On one hand, most people would certainly applaud the use of technology to scan email in a case like this.
On the other, debate rages about how much privacy users can expect when using Google's services like email. In a word: none.
A year ago, in a court brief, Google said as much. Then, in April, after a class-action case against Google for email scanning fell apart, Google updated its terms of service to warn people that it was automatically analyzing emails .
Considering Google has been working to fight online child sexual abuse since 2006, it stands to reason the company would scan emails looking for those sorts of images. Google has never come right out and said so, but hinted strongly at it about a year ago when Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google Giving, specifically mentioned the National Center's "CyberTipline" in a blog post . The CyberTipline receives leads and tips regarding suspected crimes."
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