A new child pornography bust reported by CBS Sacramento is raising questions about Google's access to consumer data. The story began when federal agents raided a home in Woodland, California, on evidence that the resident was in possession of child pornography. But court documents reveal the evidence came from Google's central scanning initiative, which had detected child porn images within the man's Picasa library.
Google's anti-child-porn efforts are well known, but many privacy advocates were surprised to learn the efforts extended to individual Picasa libraries, which are not publicly available. Google says it does not search the images indiscriminately, but performs automated searches searching for specific "image fingerprints" that have been flagged by law enforcement. Any suspicious activity is forwarded to the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, which, in this case, passed the information along to federal law enforcement to bring about the bust.