Feeds

Google to open suspect Orkut albums to Brazil police

'You only had to ask'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Google is to give Brazilian police access to 3,261 private photo albums on social networking website Orkut, which may contain child pornography.

The move is part of a strategy announced by the head of the company in Brazil, Alexandre Hohagen, to a Senate Committee set up to investigate cases of paedophilia in the country.

During a hearing this week, Alexandre Hohagen and Felix Ximenes, director of communication for Google Brazil, claimed they are currently implementing more effective image filters that will detect and prevent the uploading of child pornography.

Ximenes told The Register the new filter is 60 per cent more efficient than the current technology. "But I can't tell how you it works, or we would just be telling how to fool it and throwing away months of development."

Orkut has more than 60 million users, most of them in Brazil. According to Sergio Suiama, the federal prosecutor for Sao Paulo, in the last two years nearly 90 per cent of the 56,000 complaints in Brazil about net-based paedophilia were linked to the website.

Ximenes said that until September 2007, all requests for information about users suspected of crimes such as racism or paedophilia were sent to Google US to be examined.

"But since then we have been dealing directly with that, providing the police with user IPs and navigation logs whenever it is requested. It's happened in more than 1,000 cases so far."

He said giving investigators personal information about suspects and access to their private albums "is not an issue", but conceded that Google has not yet received any official communication, so he can't say when this information is to be handed out.

Ximenes and Hohagen told the Senate panel that Orkut will keep users' navigation logs for six months, instead of the current 30 days.

However, he explained there was a legislative grey zone regarding child pornography in Brazil.

Every time abuse is reported within Orkut, the administrators must immediately delete the images, destroying the proofs.

"There is no Brazilian legislation ruling these situations, and according to US law, if we keep these images or forward them to anyone else we are committing a crime," says Ximenes. "We are only allowed to forward them to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, in the United States, before deleting them from our database."

He says the company is working on a collaboration between Brazilian authorities and the US organisation.

The private photo albums, considered by some as a safe haven for criminals, were introduced in November 2007, and allow users to block access to the pictures by anyone outside their direct network.

"We created this to protect the privacy of those who didn't want personal pictures to be seen by anyone," says Ximenes. "And it is being well used by the majority of the users."

Google apparently has no plans to disable this option. "Every technology can be used for good or evil. What we are doing is trying to stop and prevent bad ways of using this technology," says Ximenes. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.