If Edward Snowden's yearlong verbal diarrhea and the prevalent advertising practices in the tech world have taught us one thing, it's that email isn’t safe any longer.
Be it the prying eyes of the National Surveillance Agency (NSA) or the business minded thinking of Google, if you're using digital media to exchange messages, there is always the odd chance that yours aren't the only set of eyeballs on your inbox.
Despite what Snowden and his ilk say, the NSA's espionage tactics and Google's moneymaking practices don't create actual physical hurdles for the general population. That is about to change.
A 41-year-old pedophile has been arrested in Texas after Google's new email surveillance system detected traces of child pornography in his email and alerted the authorities concerned.
On the surface, the apprehension of a convicted sex offender is great news. At the same time, however, Google's automatic scouring of billions of user emails for illegal material does entrust an awful lot of power in a private company's hand.
The World Wide Web has several activities that are technically illegal but are socially acceptable, and ones that don’t really require criminal prosecution. What guarantee is Google providing that its system won't tap into that gray area once it's done tackling pedophilia?
The system has the potential of making a criminal out of almost every Internet user on grounds of online piracy and adult material. To make sure that such a situation doesn't arise, some perimeters need to be put in place.
Google has some explaining to do.