A 41-year-old man has been arrested after Google tipped off the authorities that he had sent an email with an explicit image of a young girl through his GMail account.

Skillern, a convicted sex offender, has reportedly been charged with possessing child pornography after Google shared his information with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who informed Houston Police.

The image was discovered due Google’s work with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), where the search giant dynamically scans all messages being sent by GMail users for known and reported images and videos of child abuse.

The method is similar to how Google scans the text of every email sent through GMail for keywords, which are then used to target advertising, so when someone is discussing flights via email, the advertising they see may be for a flight price comparison checker.

Google perceives the dangers posed to children by those sharing images of child abuse as of greater importance than the right to privacy. However, whilst Google does not currently scan emails for copyright infringement or hate speech, that they have the technology in place to monitor anything a users sends and receives through GMail has made some privacy advocates nervous.

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