Il envoie une photo de son fils à un médecin, Google le dénonce à la police pour pédocriminalité

Tech&Co

Despite a police investigation that found him innocent, Google never agreed to reactivate the father’s account. He is not the only one in this case.

An American father had his Google account deleted after sending photos of his young son’s genitals to a doctor during a doctor’s appointment via video conference. He was also the subject of a police investigation, reports the American newspaper Tea New York Times.

After detecting a possible infection in their son, in February 2021, Mark and his wife decide to quickly go to a doctor. The appointment is made for the next day, but in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be through a video call. In this context, the couple takes a series of snapshots of their newborn’s penis to send them, through a messaging system dedicated to the health system, to their doctor, who will examine them before the appointment.

The boy heals quickly, but due to the photos transmitted, Mark finds himself worried by Google but also by the police, suspected of participating in child pornography trafficking.

Banned from Google

The digital giant deletes its account two days after the photos were taken, reports the New York Times. In the email warning the father, Google refers to “offensive content,” which represents a “serious violation of Google policy and may be illegal.” In said message, a list of possible reasons is detailed, among which are “the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors.”

Google services do, in fact, have a photo detection system that can identify child pornography photos. This analysis is carried out in particular when users activate the function of backing up their photos remotely, for example, with the Google Photos application.

Images are first reviewed by an automated system and then, if one is flagged, by a human. Two steps that did not prevent misinterpretation.

Under US law, any photos found by Google’s system are immediately reported to CyberTipline, a cell of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Therefore, Mark was the subject of a police investigation.

As part of the deletion of his Google account, Mark lost all his emails, his contact details, but also photos of his son’s first moments. A subscriber to Google’s phone service, Google Fi, Mark also had to figure out whether to sign up for a subscription with another carrier.

a similar case

When he learned of these consequences two days later, Mark issued a reactivation request to Google, which ended in an “unexplained” denial by the digital giant.

The same two months ago, in June 2022, when he received a notice that his account had been permanently deleted. Since then, Mark has waived a lengthy and costly legal process he had considered against the digital giant.

The San Francisco police have been more conciliatory with the father of the family. In December 2021, when Mark receives a letter from the authorities informing him of what the investigation is about, the officer dedicated to his case tells him that the case is closed, since no crime has been identified.

the New York Times indicates that Mark is not the only one who has experienced this situation. Another father, a resident of Texas, found himself in a similar situation after sending photos of his son to his doctor. If the police investigation he was subjected to was resolved quickly, he was also unable to recover his Google account.

While these various cases highlight the effectiveness of Google’s detection system, they also point to the limits of artificial intelligence that has no human oversight. In 2021, the detection tool reported more than 600,000 images linked to child pornography content, removing 270,000 user accounts at the same time.

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