Google Spots Child Abuse Images in Gmail Users e-mails

John Hawes writes on the Sophos Naked Security website reports that Google has revealed the identity of a Gmail account to authorities in Houston, Texas, USA after finding child abuse images in e-mails. Google scans Gmail user’s e-mails to provide amongst other things targeted advertising; however, this is the first time that there has been a report of Google scanning e-mails for criminal activity.

The revelation raises concerns about privacy of e-mails and extent to which Google is involved in supplying information to Governments.

A later report on the BBC news website states that the BBC understands that Google does not scan e-mails for other types of criminal activity. However, the very fact that Google could at some future date scan e-mails for other types of content, illegal or otherwise is a concern as what procedures and safeguards are in place is not clear.

Subsequent to the Google story breaking it was revealed in a further report on the BBC website that Microsoft had also tipped off Police about child Pornography images after scanning a OneDrive cloud storage account used by a man in Pennsylvania.

GPs’ responsibilities amount to ‘good customer service’

Alex Matthews-King writes in Pulse that the Information Commissioner believes that General Practitioners should consider the notifying their patients about as being “good customer service” and not as a “legalistic tick-box”.

However, GP leaders have said this underestimates the strain it will put on practices to notify patients without additional funding.  Dr Grant Ingrams, deputy chair of the GPC’s IT subcommittee and a GP in Coventry told Pulse:

‘From the ICO’s point of view, GPs are the data controllers. So from their point of view, because we’re data controllers we’re the ones who need be sure that what needs to be done has been done.’

‘From my point of view, that’s fine. But unless the NHS is going to fund that or provide the resources to do that, as in they do it on our behalf, or they fund us to do it, I don’t mind. Then it makes a dead duck.’

‘Because I don’t think any GP is going to pay hundreds or thousands out of their own pocket to run a campaign.’



How safe is your quantified self? Tracking, monitoring, and wearable tech

Symantec the computer security firm has published an article about how people using portable fitness monitors and other bluetooth enabled “life-loggers” can be tracked using a device as simple and cheap as a Raspberry Pi mini computer.

Symantic researchers used the Rasberry Pi computer as a Bluetooth scanner, which they took out to athletic events and public spaces.  Using the improvised scanner, they were able to detect life-logging devices from the Bluetooth signals broadcast by the devices and track them using the unique hardware addresses they transmit.

The researchers claim that depending on the devices configuration, remote querying could be possible with some devices which reveal device characteristics and allow users to be tracked.  The researchers also highlighted that some 20% of devices transmitted user details in plain text which has obvious security concerns.

The researchers concluded that:

“From the results of this research, it appears that manufacturers of these devices (including market leaders) have not seriously considered or addressed the privacy implications of wearing their products.  As a result, the devices, and by association the wearers can be easily tracked by anybody with some basic skills and a few cheap tools.”

For more detailed information the Symantic researchers have written a white paper on the their findings called: How Safe is your quantified self.


Russia enacts ‘draconian’ law for bloggers and online media

The BBC reports that a new media law imposing restrictions on social media users has come into force in Russia.

The law means that bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the Russian mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor and conform to the regulations that previously only applied to larger media outlets.  These regulations amongst other things forbid publishing false information, hate speech, or obscenities.  However, the law is widely seen as a means for President Putin and the Russian authorities to crack down on their critics.

Critics of the Russian state have increasingly been targeted by the authorities and in March, Moscow blocked the blog of Alexei Navalny a leading anti corruption campaigner and critic of Pesident Putin, along with two news sites and a organisation run by Garry Kasparov – another vocal critic of the Russian government.