Technology

Google Turns In Houston Man After Finding Child Porn In His Gmail (Video)

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Google reported a Texas user to authorities after it allegedly discovered child pornography in the man’s Gmail account.

Google alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which notified Houston police. John Henry Skillern, 41, was then arrested, according to KHOU-TV.

Police told the news station that Google detected explicit images of a young girl in an email that Skillern sent to a friend.

"I can't see that information, I can't see that photo, but Google can,” said Detective David Nettles of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.

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"He was trying to get around getting caught, he was trying to keep it inside his email," Nettles said.

Skillern is a registered sex offender who was convicted in 1994 of sexual assaulting an 8-year-old boy, KHOU-TV reported.

After authorities obtained a search warrant, child porn was found on Skillern’s phone and tablet, and text messages and emails revealed his interest in children. He allegedly worked at a Pasadena restaurant where he took videos of underage diners.

"He seemed like a nice, normal man," said his neighbor Yesenia Gonzales. "Thank goodness for Google."

But some say the actions of the tech giant bring to question issues of Internet privacy.

Google refused to comment when BBC News asked whether it searches users’ Gmail content for illegal activity.

Google helps to fund the Internet Watch Foundation which "proactively identifying child abuse images that Google can then remove from our search engine,” says Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond.

"I really don't know how they do their job," said Nettles. "But I'm just glad they do it."

Skillern was charged with one count of child porn possession and one count of promotion of child pornography. He is being held on $200,000 bond.

Sources: KHOU-TV, BBC News

Image screenshot: KHOU-TV