Cloud-based child porn continues to be in the news with this report that William Steven Albaugh from Baltimore has been arrested for storing indecent images of children on a cloud services, and viewing them on an iPad.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the US Network provider Verizon reported the images - stored on its Verizon Backup and Sharing service - to the local police who took immediate action.
The Baltimore Sun reports: "William Steven Albaugh, 67, a deacon at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Belair Road, was arrested at his Nottingham home at 7:45 a.m. Police had searched Albaugh's Treadway Court home and said they found images of children on his Verizon Online account and on thumb drives.
Police recovered two CPU towers, a laptop computer, multiple storage devices and an iPad. Albaugh told police that he used the tablet to view nudist websites that include pictures of children, according to charging documents."
The news follows our story that Apple appears to be sporadically blocking the term "barely legal teen" from its iCloud Mail service. According to Macworld sister site Infoworld it has been doing so for some four months now.
However, many Macworld readers have reported that the blockage is sporadic, and inconsistent suggesting that it is more to do with combating spam than a consistent block on conversation. It does, however, block legitimate Mail such as our test which used the phrase "barely legal teenage driver".
Macworld's Dan Frakes said “Occasionally, automated spam filters may incorrectly block legitimate email. If the customer feels that a legitimate message is blocked, we encourage customers to report it to AppleCare.”
Frakes suggests that that's a terrible answer: "How do you report the non-arrival of an email that you never received?... it’s the lack of transparency about this filtering". He continues to suggest that Apple already has a spam filtering service in the form of Junk Mail (which enables users to view spam messages if they want).
Users can always install more powerful systems such as SpamSieve if they want or require stronger levels of Mail control.
But if Apple blocks a message at its end you have no control over it, and you'll never know it was meant to arrive. Also, as many Reddit contributors were keen to point out, the phrase "barely legal teen" is not illegal, and if people wish to receive mails containing the term they should be allowed to do so. Perhaps even if they are spam.
Clearly, storing indecent images of children in an cloud service is neither legal nor morally right. And we are rightfully glad that Albaugh has been arrested.
This situation does, however, continue to throw light on our relationship with cloud services. As our personal information (including images, documents and messages) continues to move seamlessly from local devices with large hard drives, to cloud-based servers we are beginning to see that our personal information is monitored, processed and, if necessary, reported to the authorities.
Services like iCloud (with iPhoto and Documents in the Cloud) are designed to make it as easy as possible for people to seamlessly move their personal information from local storage to Apple's servers. And with privacy concerns surrounding the arrival of Google Glass, and its ability to innocuously record events it may be that our whole relationship with personal privacy has to be rethought.
Apple itself has repeatedly suggested that it has a moral duty to remove objectional content from its servers. Back in 2010 Apple Phil Schiller told The New York Times: "An increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content," had been submitted by a small number of iPhone developers... It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see."