Last night my husband called me to read an email he had been sent. Its not often he does this and it is usually something band related or one of those hilariously over-complicated beg for money emails (you know, I am the King of Nigeria and I need to store my gold in your little bank account in the UK). I wish it had been. Instead, my husband had been emailed by Microsoft regarding the photos he had recently shared on Skydrive, so that all of our precious photos are backed up. My husband was told that they had found illegal photos in one of his folders and that unless he removed them, they would delete his account.
We were mortified. Of course, we quickly located the folder in question and scanned it’s contents. My heart sank when we found the photo. The baby’s first bath at home. His body was so tiny at five days old that my husband’s hand and forearm completely covered the front of his body as he held him and the only visible part of him in the photo was his head. That was the illegal, offensive and indecent photo Microsoft were closing us down for.
Initially, my reaction was one of outrage. Can’t they see that this is a photo of a newborn baby having a bath? Can’t they see that these photos are secure and shared with nobody? Can’t they see that every single other photo in the whole account is family oriented? Then I realised: how can they see that when its just a computer scanning and not a person making an educated judgement?
Don’t get me wrong. There are people out there who would find the photo appealing in all the wrong ways. I know that. I don’t immediately think that though, because I’m not wired that way. I see that photo and I see my son having his first bath. I am also glad that Microsoft take the protection of children very seriously and that they are using software that scans for indecent images. BUT…
… why didn’t a real human being take the time to evaluate the case? Why didn’t a human being contact us? More importantly, what good is closing down an account with indecent images without reporting them to the police?
Had the photo really been indecent, why the hell didn’t Microsoft report it to the police for the sake of protecting children? If they are to scan our personal photos then they should do something about the ones they find offensive, surely? What good is closing down an account when those who really intend to look at indecent images are just going to open another one elsewhere? Is this really protecting children? Where is the human touch?
Looking back at the photo, I am glad that we have removed it (in fact, we have removed every single photo now) as it has made us realise that anybody could potentially hack into our acount (persons working at Microsoft, for example) view our pictures and so ones of the chidren in the bath perhaps should be protected. But what are your views? Microsoft obviously want to do something about indecent images on children on the web, but are they doing the right thing? Should they be assessing each case individually and reporting them to the authorities? Am I being too over-sensitive about the whole thing? How do you protect your children’s photos online?