Microsoft Tip Off Leads To Child Abuse Arrest In The US

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Microsoft becomes the latest tech vendor to aid law officials in their fight against child abuse

A tip off from Microsoft led to the arrest of a suspected paedophile in the US, according to a report in the Smoking Gun, which says 20 year old Tyler James Hoffman was taken into custody last month.

Hoffman was apparently arrested by state police and booked into the Monroe County Correctional Facility on five felony charges related to alleged possession and distribution of child pornography. He faces a $50,000 (£29,700) bail and is scheduled for an 14 August preliminary hearing in a District Court.

Microsoft apparently detected that Hoffman had twice uploaded illicit images of a young girl to his SkyDrive (renamed subsequently to OneDrive) account earlier this year. The company then informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which, in turn alerted law enforcement officials.

Child Abuse Arrest

HotmailHoffman used a Microsoft live.com email address, and he reportedly admitted to receiving and trading child porn via his mobile phone.

The news that Microsoft actively helped in tracking down a child abuse suspect, comes just days after it was revealed that Google had assisted police in Texas, after its systems detected child abuse images hidden inside the emails of a Gmail user. The police then arrested a 41 year old man named John Henry Skillern .

The Microsoft and Google cases are noteworthy, because it reveals that both Google and Microsoft are actively scanning images on their cloud services. It also reveals that commonly-used internet services, such as Gmail and Live.com are not private, and are subject to monitoring by the tech giants.

Microsoft, like Google, makes clear in its terms and conditions for its US users, that automated systems do regularly scan for child abuse images.

“In many cases Microsoft is alerted to violations of the Code of Conduct through customer complaints, but we also deploy automated technologies to detect child pornography or abusive behavior that might harm the system, our customers, or others,” said Microsoft. “When investigating these matters, Microsoft or its agents will review Content in order to resolve the issue. This is in addition to the uses we describe in this Agreement and the Privacy Statements.”

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