Ugh! I don't even know where to begin. I'd like to think that if I were in that situation, my brain would engage and scream, "STOP, there are some things you need to go to a Doctor's office for". Given the pandemic and all of the stay-at-home shit we've just been through (as mentioned in the article) I can see where people might have the impression that this is somehow okay...Mark noticed something amiss with his toddler. His son’s penis looked swollen and was hurting him. Mark, a stay-at-home dad in San Francisco, grabbed his Android smartphone and took photos to document the problem so he could track its progression.
It was a Friday night in February 2021. His wife called an advice nurse at their health care provider to schedule an emergency consultation for the next morning, by video because it was a Saturday and there was a pandemic going on. The nurse said to send photos so the doctor could review them in advance.
Mark’s wife grabbed her husband’s phone and texted a few high-quality close-ups of their son’s groin area to her iPhone so she could upload them to the health care provider’s messaging system. In one, Mark’s hand was visible, helping to better display the swelling. Mark and his wife gave no thought to the tech giants that made this quick capture and exchange of digital data possible, or what those giants might think of the images.
With help from the photos, the doctor diagnosed the issue and prescribed antibiotics, which quickly cleared it up. But the episode left Mark with a much larger problem, one that would cost him more than a decade of contacts, emails, and photos, and make him the target of a police investigation. Mark, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of potential reputational harm, had been caught in an algorithmic net designed to snare people exchanging child sexual abuse material.
Regarding the rest of the article, well, I'd describe as a cautionary tale of becoming too reliant on a corporation:
He filled out a form requesting a review of Google’s decision, explaining his son’s infection. At the same time, he discovered the domino effect of Google’s rejection. Not only did he lose emails, contact information for friends and former colleagues, and documentation of his son’s first years of life, his Google Fi account shut down, meaning he had to get a new phone number with another carrier. Without access to his old phone number and email address, he couldn’t get the security codes he needed to sign in to other internet accounts, locking him out of much of his digital life.
“The more eggs you have in one basket, the more likely the basket is to break,” he said.
Obviously, any files that have value to you, should probably be backed up offline.In December, Mark received a manila envelope in the mail from the San Francisco Police Department. It contained a letter informing him that he had been investigated as well as copies of the search warrants served on Google and his internet service provider. An investigator, whose contact information was provided, had asked for everything in Mark’s Google account: his internet searches, his location history, his messages and any document, photo and video he’d stored with the company.
The search, related to “child exploitation videos,” had taken place in February, within a week of his taking the photos of his son.
Mark called the investigator, Nicholas Hillard, who said the case was closed. Hillard had tried to get in touch with Mark, but his phone number and email address hadn’t worked.
“I determined that the incident did not meet the elements of a crime and that no crime occurred,” Hillard wrote in his report. Police had access to all the information Google had on Mark and decided it did not constitute child abuse or exploitation.
Mark appealed his case to Google again, providing the police report, but to no avail. After getting a notice two months ago that his account was being permanently deleted, Mark spoke with a lawyer about suing Google and how much it might cost.
“I decided it was probably not worth $7,000,” he said.