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Google’s Role In Woodland Child Pornography Arrest Raises Privacy Concerns

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WOODLAND (CBS13) — A child pornography arrest helped by Google is raising privacy concerns.

Federal investigators arrested a Woodland man on child pornography charges after Google found images on his computer.

Google’s cyber criminal investigators are faceless servers, looking across the Internet for child pornography. Each image that’s uploaded to the Web has its own unique digital fingerprint.

And according to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS13, they found it in Woodland.

Stunned neighbors on Carlsbad Place recently woke up to the sight of police cars and FBI raid jackets.

“It was pretty scary for everybody,” said Lindsey Griffiths.

They witnessed Raul Gonzales, 40, being arrested. He’s accused of having more than 3,000 pornographic pictures of children on his cellphone.

The FBI says the investigation began in March when Google’s hashing technology found two child porn pictures in his Picasa library. Picasa is a cloud-sharing platform for images owned by Google.

From there, the company notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which says it found more images on a Tumblr account owned by Gonzalez. That’s when the feds took over.

Agents say they also found pictures of a 9-year-old who is close to the family, and that Gonzales admitted to sexually assaulting the child.

Google says if you have an account with them, it’s not just indiscriminately searching through your pictures, but their servers are looking for possible digital fingerprints the FBI may be interested in.

The company says its database is share with law enforcement and watchdog groups such as the Internet Watch Foundation and the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children.

When an image is found, an employee will inspect it to make sure it’s actual abuse and not just a picture of a child at bathtime.

Microsoft also developed Photo DNA to match pictures using just a pixel. That allows investigators to find out if a picture previously identified as child porn gets reuploaded to the Web.

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