Microsoft Is Also Scanning For Illicit Images

Like Google, tech giant spies e-mail, storage accounts


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Microsoft User Charged

AUGUST 5--No, Google isn’t the only tech giant scanning your online accounts for illicit images.

Microsoft does the exact same thing, according to a criminal complaint filed last week against a Pennsylvania man accused of using the tech titan’s e-mail and cloud storage service.

Tyler James Hoffman, 20, was arrested by state police and booked into the Monroe County Correctional Facility on five felony charges related to his alleged possession and distribution of child pornography.

Hoffman, seen in the above mug shot, is locked up in lieu of $50,000 bail.

According to a July 31 criminal complaint, Microsoft twice detected Hoffman uploading illicit images to his SkyDrive account earlier this year. The firm then passed on details of the uploads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which, in turn, tipped law enforcement officials.

While the complaint does not detail how Microsoft identified the illicit images, it seems likely that the firm, like Google, uses sophisticated software to compare stored photos with known child porn images that have been previously obtained by law enforcement agencies worldwide. It seems likely that similar analysis is done by other large e-mail providers, like Yahoo and AOL.

During questioning last Thursday, Hoffman--who used a Microsoft e-mail address--reportedly admitted to receiving and trading child porn via his cell phone, adding that he sought to upload illicit images to SkyDrive (which recently was renamed OneDrive).

Hoffman is scheduled for an August 14 preliminary hearing in Magisterial District Court. (2 pages)