Colorado Sex Crime Attorney Blog

Where Has Privacy Gone? Google Scans Emails for Illegal Images

Posted by Kyle B. Sawyer | Sep 05, 2014 | 0 Comments

Did you know Google scans emails for illegal images? Read more in our blog.
We are contacted constantly by people who have been charged for possessing sexually explicit images of children. They are facing Sexual Exploitation of a Child charges in Denver, Adams, or Jefferson County, and they can't believe they were caught. After all, what we do on the internet is private, right? It's easy to think that when you're home alone, browsing the web. But, in reality – your online activity is closely monitored, especially when it comes to peer to peer networks. In recent news, Google announced they scan your emails, looking specifically for illegal images. Let's dig deeper into this practice, and how we feel about privacy.

Man Arrested after Google Email Scan

Google scans all your Gmail emails. This is old news; you may have noticed the ads on the side of your email have become more and more specific as the years pass. This is because Google scans all your Gmail so they can target the ads directly at you. What many people don't know is that if Google finds illegal images (sexually explicit images of children) in your email, they will report you to a law enforcement agency. In fact, a man was just arrested for the possession of illegal images. It was Google who tipped him off to the authorities.

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”90%”]Google tipped off the police about the illegal images.[/pullquote]

What Exactly are Illegal Images? Sexual Exploitation of a Child

While pornography of adults is legal, sexually explicit images of children is a crime. In Colorado, a person who possesses, distributes, or creates such images will be charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child – C.R.S. 18-6-403 (child pornography). This crime is a sex offense – if you are convicted anywhere in Colorado – in Arapahoe, Douglas, or El Paso County, you will be required to register as a sex offender. Additionally, you will be required to undergo harsh sex offender treatment overseen by the Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB).

Where's the Privacy? The Internet isn't Private

Google has announced they “only use this technology to identify child sexual abuse imagery.” In other words, if you hatched a scheme to rob a bank with your friends, and emailed about it for weeks, Google wouldn't report you. This could change, however. When you sign up for an account, you give your consent for searches to Google, which means they could change their mind and begin reporting a wide range of crimes. They are a private company, after all, and can do as they please. This recent arrest goes to show the internet isn't private – it is monitored closely by private companies as well as law enforcement agencies.

Have You Been Charged for Possessing Illegal Images?

If you have been charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, don't hesitate to contact an accomplished criminal defense lawyer to defend you in the courtroom. The earlier in your case we get involved, the better. Don't hesitate, or give up hope. Contact us for a free consultation – we fight to win.

Request a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the O'Malley Law Office for a free consultation at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About the Author

Kyle B. Sawyer

I have a passion for defending others in criminal cases. I am able to empathize with my clients and understand their emotions and fears. I have a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and I understand what it feels like to be wrongly accused of a crime.


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