Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s hashing and image tagging feature helped the police to identify and arrest a man in Houston on child pornography charges. The search engine giant assisted the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited children by scanning for child pornography images in the culprit’s email account.

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Skillern, a sex offender

John Skillern, as identified by the KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston, is a registered sex offender. The accused was allegedly hiding his actions by sending emails to a friend that contained photos of explicit pictures of a young girl. Investigators got their hands on the warrant after Google ran an automated scan and found child pornography in Skillern’s phone and tablets. There were email messages in his mailbox relating to his sexual inclination towards children.

It was mentioned in the report that Skillern used to record the activities of children at the Denny’s restaurant where he was employed.

Jacqueline Fuller, director of Google Giving, said in relation to the NCMEC’s cyber tipline, that its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child sexual abuse.

Fuller said that Google adopted Hashing technology since 2008 “to tag known child sexual abuse images allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere.” The executive said that Google thinks that there are types of information that should not be “created or found.”

“We can do a lot to ensure it’s not available online – and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted,” Fuller’s statement said.

Is Google breaching privacy?

Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said that Internet Watch foundation does a very important work by identifying the child abuse images, which Google then removes from the search engine. Drummond said that modern computers are advanced enough to identify the color of naked flesh, but only humans can distinguish between the innocent pictures of children and image of abuse and even they fail to identify it sometimes.

For its part, Google does not typically publicly comment on its actions as this might help offenders in taking countermeasures.

According to Business Insider, Google’s action can be seen as a breach of user privacy, but the company has already updated its privacy policies and informed users regarding the automatic analysis of emails.