You could be forgiven for not having heard of John Henry Skillern. The 41 year old is facing charges of possession and promotion of child pornography after Google detected images of child abuse on his Gmail account.
Because of his case we now know that Google “proactively scours hundreds of millions of email accounts” for certain images. The technology has raised some privacy concerns which have been largely brushed aside because, well, it’s child pornography.
Sky’s technology correspondent Tom Cheshire, for example, doesn’t think it is an invasion of our privacy for “technical and moral reasons”. But should journalists be worried about the wider applications of the technology, and the precedent being set?
With news last week of the New York Times and Washington Post being hacked recently, The Muckraker‘s Lyra McKee looks at internet security.
“They were able to hack into the computer and remotely access my Facebook account, printing out a transcript of a private conversation. Then they told me who I’d been talking to over the past week and who was on my contacts list. They’d hacked into my phone. When they first told me they could hack into computers and phones, I didn’t believe them. So they showed me.”
I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of Northern Ireland’s few investigative journalists. He was shaken.
In thirty years of reporting, Colin (not his real name) has seen things that would leave the average person traumatized. A confidante of IRA terrorists, he has shaken hands with assassins and invited them into his home for a chat over a cup of tea – as he had done with me that night.
A few weeks previous, during one visit from a source, the subject of hacking had come up. Continue reading →
“If you’re subscribed to receive email from certain senders, the messages you receive from them will be enhanced with an interactive gadget that has up-to-date content from their website (you’ll also see an icon in your inbox identifying these messages).
“For example, if you receive a Pregnancy Bulletin newsletter from Babycenter, you’ll be able to view up-to-date content, including the baby name of the day, and browse though the current top 100 baby names within the message. Aside from the convenience of being able to interact with certain websites from inside Gmail, the branded content will help identify that your messages are legitimate and not spoofed (we’ll only show branded content when the sender authenticates their mail). We’re currently testing this with a small number of senders and will decide whether to make it widely available based on user and partner feedback.”
This has a two major implications for publishers: the first is the possibilities it opens to create genuinely lucrative email newsletters either for their own publications or – just as likely – for advertisers (think of it as the email equivalent of the corporate magazine). But will they have to get in bed with Google to benefit from them?
The second implication is this: advertisers are already beginning to spend their budgets on their own publishing operations – i.e. websites and viral marketing. This is another possible candidate for those budgets.