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Technology that spots child porn can ensnare innocent people

As Internet-related technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated, law enforcement has more tools at its disposal to track down and apprehend those who engage in illegal online activities. One of the primary concerns of those in law enforcement is finding and apprehending those who distribute and view child pornography.

Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are helping organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children find and arrest those who have these illegal images on their computer. Microsoft has created a tool called PhotoDNA, in partnership with NCMEC, to electronically identify these images.

PhotoDNA uses a hash reference system that compares digital images to illegal ones and reports when a match is spotted. Google uses this technology to digitally search images on Gmail accounts, flag the images that are found and report them to authorities, as required by law.

Technology, of course, can allow far more images to be spotted than human beings could do. However, that can also be problematic. As one cyber-security expert noted, "As with any powerful tool, there are always unintended consequences."

What if someone sends you an illegal image without your knowledge and you open it? What if you take an innocent photo of your baby or toddler with little or no clothing? People have found themselves facing legal, career and personal consequences for images on their computer when they had no illegal or immoral intention.

Even if you believe the charges are completely unwarranted, that doesn't mean that prosecutors, judges or juries will agree. That's why it's essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.

Source: Fox News, "Google uses ‘unique digital fingerprinting’ to detect child porn in Gmail accounts," Christina Corbin, accessed Sep. 30, 2015

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