OneDrive Sniffs Abusive Images While Microsoft Tips off Authorities

A Pennsylvania man is being accused of storing graphic images that involve child abuse inside of his Microsoft OneDrive account. The popular cloud storage app offers up to 15GBs of free space and the platform is used by millions around the world the store and share office documents, images and media in all different formats.

What some cloud storage users may not realize is that inside the tiny print that no one reads when you first sign up for OneDrive, users consent to Microsoft being able to scan the contents of your files in order to look for malicious or abusive content. In fact, Microsoft’s T&C says that they employ “Automated technologies to detect child pornography or abusive behavior that might harm the system, our customers, or others.”

The man that is being accused of uploading and sharing these horrific images on OneDrive was arrested on July 31st. Main stream news sources such as the BBC confirm that Microsoft was responsible for detecting these images and subsequently alerting authorities about the man’s activities.

However OneDrive isn’t alone in its battle against abusive media being stored and shared in the cloud. Last week, Google Drive made headlines after handing over the identity of a 41 year old Texas man who is being accused of crimes relating to sharing and storing photos of child abuse in the cloud.

Automated image scanning is becoming a common practice within cloud services. Cloud storage providers must implement every safeguard possible in order to protect their organization’s reputation. Harboring any type illegal activities on your systems is the best way to be put out of business and most will agree that Microsoft and Google are doing the right thing by alerting the proper authorities.

Applications such as Microsoft PhotoDNA exist to detect these types of images automatically without humans having to directly view the images. Social networking services such as Facebook and Instagram have used Microsoft PhotoDNA for years. PhotoDNA and other in-house platforms are continuing to evolve in order to automatically detect abusive images that find their way into the cloud.