back to article Microsoft sued by staff traumatized by child sex abuse vids stashed on OneDrive accounts

Two former Microsoft employees have sued the Windows giant seeking compensation for the mental trauma of screening child sex abuse photos, murder videos, and other extreme content flowing through the company's online services. Henry Soto and Greg Blauert were assigned to Microsoft's Online Safety Team, formed in 2008 following …

  1. Vimes

    ... following a federal requirement that unlawful material like child pornography must be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

    A requirement to report something as and when it's found as a result of a support call or other associated activity is one thing, telling companies that they have to actively go out and find things to report is quite another. It's difficult to believe that the latter is really a requirement.

    I won't shed any tears for any perverts caught out by this, but all the same: by what right have Microsoft been rifling through the private files belonging to their users?

    1. joed

      It's not private once in their cloud. Hopefully everyone will eventually wise up to this concept.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Cloud?

        It's not private once in ANY cloud. Hopefully everyone will eventually wise up to this concept.

        There fixed it for you.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Cloud?

          Just make sure you dont put your private key up there!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cloud?

          "It's not private once in ANY cloud. Hopefully everyone will eventually wise up to this concept.

          There fixed it for you."

          There's this thing called encryption. You can use it to make it very very very hard for other people to read your files unless you want them to. You can then put your files anywhere and only those who get the special magic keys to read it can do so.

          Cloud servers can be set up to properly encrypt data. My own one won't let me see what others have on it, and if I lose my keys I lose my data.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cloud?

            There's this thing called encryption. You can use it to make it very very very hard for other people to read your files unless you want them to. You can then put your files anywhere and only those who get the special magic keys to read it can do so.

            If I have them at home someone will first have to gain access to them before they can start to decrypt them, and it's encrypted with my software of my choice. In addition, any idiot seeking to mount surveillance will have to gain access to my premises. In the process, there is plenty of opportunity for me to notice that someone is trying to gain access and change things, and automated surveillance is not possible.

            If I have data in the cloud, I have no view on who takes a copy for themselves, and if I make the mistake of using the vendor-supplied encryption I also have no idea if there is a backdoor or not. In one go, I have introduced two uncontrolled variables into my risk equation.

            In addition, it always amuses me when especially US companies claim to have some form of warrant canary or "transparency" - read the contents of any NSL and see what the implications are for anyone opening their mouth about it and you'll realise that those tools and statements too are more marketing than reality.

            A cloud is a cloud is a cloud, and a private cloud is more marketing statement than evidence of protection. If you have something of value to protect, using a cloud for it requires a lot more thinking about the risks you attract in doing so.

        3. BillG Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Counseling?

          Microsoft began providing counseling for members of the Online Safety Team, to address a condition the company allegedly referred to as "compassion fatigue." But the complaint claims the services were inadequate.

          If the counseling is anything like what is provided to U.S. troops with PTSD, all they do is throw drugs at them. A good friend of mine, U.S. Army veteran, was given two anti-depressants and two sleeping pills. All it really does is put his emotions on hold.

          Best therapy? Just listen and be a friend.

          1. goldcd

            and don't take a job

            where your entire purpose is to look at the dregs of humanity.

            1. badger31

              Re: and don't take a job

              Like working for microsoft? (joke icon)

              But seriously - the article says the appointment was made 'involuntarily'. I mean shit! Anyone actually wanting to do this job absolutely must not be allowed to do it.

              And on a related note, a very good friend of mine, many years ago, managed to get the job he really wanted - a police man. That's a job you couldn't pay me enough to do, but someone's gotta do it. After a short time in the job he was a wreck. All the horrible shit he had to deal with on a daily basis was really grinding him down. I had to remind him that most people aren't all that bad, but his job is to deal with the ones that are, giving a warped sense of reality.

              He got over it by becoming a tough son-of-a-bitch.

              I'm not sure what you would have to become to deal with what Soto and Blauert had to deal with.

            2. Goldmember

              Re: and don't take a job

              "where your entire purpose is to look at the dregs of humanity."

              One of the guys in the article was "involuntarily" moved to the snooping team.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Counseling?

            Best therapy? Just listen and be a friend.

            Agree 100%.

            He has now passed away, but I had a friend who had seen serious action in Africa in the French Legion. I met him when he had just made it back (read: totally *not* ready for society), and I immediately got on with him. I lost count of how many nights we spent talking and drinking, but eventually we got some of the demons to settle. You cannot erase memories, but you can help people accept them as part of the past, not of the future.

            Personally I think it's criminal to fob off returning soldiers with pharma, that's not what they need and very poor payback for them risking their lives.

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Because MS is a big target and if they did not do this some jack ass federal agent or poltician would go affter them for not doing enough.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I hiccuped at that part as well, but then I doubled back and re-read the paragraph more carefully. It states that the employees check on all things posted to Bing and stored on OneDrive - in effect, making their activities totally legit since they are checking on "publicly available" data.

      So nothing to get all angsty about there. But I did do a double-take on that.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        @Pascal

        "stored on OneDrive" is not public, or at least shouldn't be unless the user specifically grants someone else access.

        It may be just files and photos you backup from your phone and that no one else has access to.

        And, just as an example, shouldn’t it be illegal for MS to view your private photos?

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: @Pascal

          I have a photo of a bin on OneDrive, it sports a "Designed for Microsoft Windows Vista" sticker.

          Glad to read they will eventually look at it ... also, happy to know I avoid storing company data on OneDrive, I knew they were snooping ....

        2. toughluck

          Re: @Pascal

          @MiguelC

          And, just as an example, shouldn’t it be illegal for MS to view your private photos?

          Should it be legal for law enforcement to rummage through private belongings in search of contraband, drugs or explosives? I specifically say law enforcement, because people frequently complain about them. Assuming we agree that they have a right to search, let's go further on this.

          Namely, if you see somebody acting suspiciously, should you report it or not? Should you intervene in any way? The reason I'm bringing this up is that you may be held liable for aiding the perpetrator if you were the only witness and there was no way for you to not notice the suspicious activity.

          Same goes for every cloud operator. If a trial finds that a specific cloud storage service was used to disseminate illegal data, you can be sure that prosecution will follow up on this and go after the operator to check if it was possible to prevent this.

          And it makes perfect sense. Otherwise corporations could not be held liable for individual employee illegal activities (for instance, participating in corruption).

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: @Pascal

            @toughluck

            and should the Royal Mail/US Postal service be liable for not steaming open and reading every letter and parcel?

            1. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: @Pascal

              They are gov agency therefore protected. Plus in the US mail has been protected. Stuff on line nope.

              Here is an example. If an email is more than 90 days old in the S the plod does not need a warrant to look at it. Physical letters needs warrants no matter how old they are.

              1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                Re: @kain preacher

                And there lies the problem. If you're renting space the landlord isn't allowed to just walk in and snoop about. It shouldn't matter if that space is a house, storage unit, cloudy drive, email, or whatever. The problem is that legislation, as always, hasn't kept pace with technology. Then again, it hasn't really tried which is probably for the best since the legislators don't understand it.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Pascal

                Here is an example. If an email is more than 90 days old in the S the plod does not need a warrant to look at it.

                I know, and I've been wondering what would happen if someone re-dates their email one year into the future. Not sure if you could get your provider to play along, but it's not beyond the reach of a bit of scripting - that would be annoying BOFH style :)

            2. Wayland Bronze badge

              Re: @Pascal

              "and should the Royal Mail/US Postal service be liable for not steaming open and reading every letter and parcel?"

              If the Royal Mail want to take on that task then they should tell their customers they are doing this. Then if a crime is committed and the Royal Mail failed to prevent it then they should offer one of their own to do the jail time.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Pascal

            Should it be legal for law enforcement to rummage through private belongings in search of contraband, drugs or explosives? I specifically say law enforcement, because people frequently complain about them. Assuming we agree that they have a right to search, let's go further on this.

            No, we won't, because you're trying to skip over something. They do not have those rights, but they can gain permission to do via a legal process - in civilised countries this generally involves due process and convincing a judge to give them a warrant. They do NOT have a God given right to do as they please. In civilised nations, "making shit up" is also not going to fly.

            Now, calling the US civilised or not is a debate I will stay away from, but even the FBI has to gain permission (again, not rights, permission) for access, and that can sometimes even be limited to a very narrow class of search and targets.

            So no, it's not *quite* the Wild West you seem to think it is. They're trying to get it that far, sure, but it hasn't fully happened yet.

            that right by default - they can only given that

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Pascal

          And, just as an example, shouldn’t it be illegal for MS to view your private photos?

          You haven't worked your way through the complex warren of T&Cs and privacy statements you agreed to. There's a clause in there somewhere that you agree MS may inspect things. What I'm unclear about is if that doesn't require explicit permission in the EU as it invades privacy, but I recall coming across it when researching something else.

        4. Paul 195

          Re: @Pascal

          It's part of the T&Cs for services like OneDrive that you don't use them to store illegal content, and that Microsoft have the right to ban you from the service for so doing. Microsoft employees are not going through everyone's files to do this; this article and others have made clear that the initial determination is made by an automated scanner. It's only material flagged up by the automated scanners that is reviewed by an actual person.

          I don't have any problem with this personally as long as there are good controls to prevent employees from reviewing my material in the absence of any indication that they should.

          1. Vimes

            Re: @Pascal @Paul 195

            It's not spying if it's a machine doing it? Seriously?

            Microsoft employees are not going through everyone's files to do this

            It's irrelevant if it's a person or a machine doing it. At the end of the day Microsoft is putting every single private file under the microscope. That's wrong.

            Oh, and their services agreement also states that:

            [...] When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue. However, we do not monitor the Services and make no attempt to do so.

            https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/servicesagreement/

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Pascal @Paul 195

              It's not spying if it's a machine doing it? Seriously?

              Microsoft employees are not going through everyone's files to do this

              It's irrelevant if it's a person or a machine doing it. At the end of the day Microsoft is putting every single private file under the microscope. That's wrong.

              Here's the fun bit: it's also actually illegal in Europe. Not the very act itself, but to gain permission to access personal information you must obtain permission EXPLICITLY, NOT IMPLICITLY under EU privacy laws and national derivatives thereof (and there's more they screwed up, but this is the most major problem they have right now). Translated, MS has to ask you permission to access your data in a separate process of approval, not bury this little gem at the end of a 2TB EULA printed in light grey 6 point font on a white background and I am 100% certain they have not done so for any customer so far (nor have they done this for other products and services - that's how I discovered this).

              So, first of all, you have Microsoft's admission they're rummaging in the data you store with them, using the exact same excuse as Google ("we use computers, so please ignore the fact that it is us who tell these computers what to look for"), and next you have them hardcore breaking EU privacy law doing so.

              It's not Google, but at this point I think it's worth asking if you feel lucky..

              1. Vimes

                Re: @Pascal @Paul 195 @ac

                Here's the fun bit: it's also actually illegal in Europe

                In that case, this is also from the services agreement:

                The laws of the country to which we direct your Services where you have your habitual residence govern all claims relating to paid Services. With respect to jurisdiction, you and Microsoft agree to choose the courts of the country to which we direct your Services where you have your habitual residence for all disputes arising out of or relating to these Terms, or in the alternative, you may choose the responsible court in Ireland.

              2. Lotaresco

                Re: @Pascal @Paul 195

                "Here's the fun bit: it's also actually illegal in Europe. Not the very act itself, but to gain permission to access personal information you must obtain permission EXPLICITLY, NOT IMPLICITLY under EU privacy laws"

                You are failing to understand privacy law. "Personal information" does not mean "a stash of kiddy porn" it doesn't even mean "Things I don't want the authorities to see." There are strict legal definitions of personal data and sensitive personal data.

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Meh

              "It's not spying if it's a machine doing it? Seriously?"

              Yup.

              That's the argument the NSA uses and the one the UK Supreme Court accepted.

              Good to know your privacy in such safe hands, eh?

            3. Paul 195

              Re: @Pascal @Paul 195

              "It's not spying if it's a machine doing it? Seriously?"

              That very much depends on what the machine is doing and how much it records. After all, a number of machines have already "seen" any content you store on SkyDrive. So if the automated scanner takes a pass through all files as they are uploaded scanning for illegal content, and then forgets everything it did unless it finds something noteworthy, then no, I don't regard that as spying. It is spying if it provides detailed info on what everyone is storing and makes it available for review by someone else. As always, the details are quite important. At the moment, I don't have any particular reason to believe I am being "spied on". At least, not by Microsoft. The provisions of RIPA worry me considerably more than anything Microsoft are likely to be doing in order to remain on the right side of the law and to avoid their servers being used as caches for paedophile material etc.

        5. boltar

          Re: @Pascal

          "And, just as an example, shouldn’t it be illegal for MS to view your private photos?"

          No, any more than its illegal for a storage company to go into the lock-up you rent off them if they need to make sure there's nothing flammable or dangerous stored there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Pascal

            No, any more than its illegal for a storage company to go into the lock-up you rent off them if they need to make sure there's nothing flammable or dangerous stored there.

            Then they would have to pay you for damaging your lock. Every storage facility insists on you using your own lock (they may sell you one, but it must be yours) because they do not want to be stuck with the liability for theft. You normally agree contractually to provide access if they want to inspect (and, of course, to not do what they forbid you) but they can't just walk in as they please as you suggest.

            Ditto for MS, and there's even a question if demanding that of users is legal. For that matter, even Google's scanning of inboxes is technically illegal in Europe because they will not have had advance permission from non-Google senders for that (and that's not my opinion, that was the statement from Data Protection people in 3 different countries when asked off the record - this is not actively pursued because of politics more than law).

            1. Lotaresco

              Re: @Pascal

              " Every storage facility insists on you using your own lock "

              No they don't.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a tough one, after all, sys admins have access to every file on their networks.

      If they didn't check the files (remember these are checking files flagged up by automated systems), then it would be impossible to ever get rid of the stuff or ban users. Either that or the just delete every file automatically flagged up by the scanning software.

      It's a bit of a tough call, and I wouldn't like to make it.

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        I think it's fair enough that the operator checks the files. They should tell the users this. It's the users responsibility to keep their stuff secure. However I don't think the operator should be removing files it believe are illegal and then telling the police. That's tampering with evidence and also alerts the suspect.

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "by what right have Microsoft been rifling through the private files belonging to their users?"

      The same "right" every sysop of every remote system I have ever used had.

      Because they can.

  2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    "There are laws that require Microsoft, if they see something, to report it."

    Yes, but that doesn't mean barging into people's personal files to see if there is something to report...

    I could understand having a human look at a person's files if an automated system like PhotoDNA flagged it, but that should really be done be specially trained people like those that the FBI employs for this specific type of work.

    But I have to wonder, are there really that many people sharing such content on Microsoft's services that they need multiple special units to look into it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "There are laws that require Microsoft, if they see something, to report it."

      "I could understand having a human look at a person's files if an automated system like PhotoDNA flagged it, but that should really be done be specially trained people like those that the FBI employs for this specific type of work."

      My landlord wants to send a robot into my house to check for illegal drugs etc. Should I let him? After all it won't be him rifling through my personal things including my personal documents, it'll just be his bot.

    2. joeaverage

      Re: "There are laws that require Microsoft, if they see something, to report it."

      Wouldn't this be a great use of the NSA/FBI/CIA? They don't respect privacy laws anyhow - let them start connecting pictures to perps and making arrests.

  3. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Big Brother

    poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

    On one hand, "oh my hear it bleeds for you" to the tune of 'hearts and flowers' on the world's smallest violin, for those poor widdle snowflakes who had to view illegal pr0n in order to discover that it was, well, illegal pr0n.

    On the other hand, as the previous poster so wittily pointed out, MICRO-SHAFT! IS! APPARENTLY! RIFLING! THROUGH! OUR! CLOUD! FILES! looking for things...

    what's NEXT on their list o' things to report, MEDIA PIRACY? Like someone who gets a takedown notice because of an unrelated youtube video in which a song is playing in the background on a TV or radio, barely audible, but just happens to be 'there' while the video is being recorded. Yes, I've seen this.

    MICRO-SHAFT: It's called *PRIVACY*, and you need to STOP INVADING IT!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

      Bob,

      I quite agree about MS rifling through the OneDrive files and comms... but there's more to this then porn... murder, violence, extreme child porn.

      I do believe there would be some serious mental trauma to anyone viewing it day in and day out. Seeing someone killed in the military is bad enough to push many people into PTSDland. Seeing kids taking the hit is worse, IMO. It's certainly not a job I'd want and I am a combat veteran (Vietnam) who saw my share but not day in and day out like these guys.

      1. Vimes

        Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what? @Mark 85

        Forget for a moment the claimed reason for going through private content. 'For the children' has to be one of the most widely abused excuses out there.

        What is their LEGAL justification here for invading privacy?

        The stated law doesn't appear to imply any requirement to actively scan content. Assuming for a moment that I haven't missed anything then however traumatising this task may be it still doesn't tell us by what right they're doing this or what legal requirement they're relying upon to justify this.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

        @Mark 85

        We see violence and murder, extreme murder on a daily basis. (TV Film Books) Nobody has been traumatised. Looking at a picture of upsetting scenes may upset you or even turn your stomach but to induce trauma is not possible. I've been traumatised by a series of events and isolation. I could not function and talking about it was impossible. You just froze. I want to see a picture that causes that. It would be worth millions and better than any drug.

        Anyone who puts private pictures on a cloud that is not zipped up with a strong password is a fool. M$ already tell you they look at files on your PC and key-log you, so I guess they will already know any passwords they encounter. Just avoid using M$ stuff.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what? @AC

          We see violence and murder, extreme murder on a daily basis. (TV Film Books) Nobody has been traumatised.

          You do realise that A; The stuff you see in the media is heavily heavily censored because they do not want to updet people. B. Trauma is subjective and your view on it is not the only experience people have had so is not a base line measurement.

          1. joeaverage

            Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what? @AC

            And the knowledge that the victim of the violence in a picture or video is REAL (or WAS real) - and you have no way of helping them. Their sounds of misery and terror are REAL.

            That is a very different thing from the latest cop show on TV with fictional crimes. I don't watch them any more either b/c I don't think it is healthy for a well adjusted person to subject themselves to thoughts like that week after week.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          "We see violence and murder, extreme murder on a daily basis. (TV Film Books) Nobody has been traumatised."

          That sir/madam, is bullshit.

          #1, there are well documented cases of people being traumatised, just because _you_ haven't doesn't mean nobody has.

          #2, what you describe is fiction, and subconsciously has a different effect due to you knowing it's not real. Viewing a picture/video/whatever and knowing it's 100% real and that the suffering isn't fiction definitely fucks with you.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

            "#2, what you describe is fiction, and subconsciously has a different effect due to you knowing it's not real. Viewing a picture/video/whatever and knowing it's 100% real and that the suffering isn't fiction definitely fucks with you."

            So you saying all that shit with wars and so on shown to us on the nightly news is fake? Always knew western media was bull but didn't realise all those shelling of innocent people and so on was all fake.

            There is a lot of real stuff people can witness. Not just on news media but places like youtube. Lots of people watched a black woman on facebook while her boyfriend was bleeding out in the car beside her after a cop shot him last year.

            You are right in saying that some people can be traumatised by these things, but it is a lot rarer than you may think, and I doubt someone who truly was traumatised would want it dragged through the courts and the media, they'd want to bury it, not remember and retell it several times and have their neighbours wondering about them and if they'll be safe around their kids after having seen that.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

              Big difference between watching some grainy TV bomb video from a get at 40k feet bomb some truck and watching a 9 year old girl get gang raped and then burned to death with acid. Especially if she's the first of hundreds. That day.

              Humans are awful, and it is quite clear you've live so sanitized a life that you haven't the first clue exactly how awful it is that we get. ...or how that affects non-sociopaths.

              But you're right about one thing, unintentional that it is. A lot of people would be shocked to realize just how common sociopaths really are.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

                "Big difference between watching some grainy TV bomb video from a get at 40k feet bomb some truck and watching a 9 year old girl get gang raped and then burned to death with acid. Especially if she's the first of hundreds. That day."

                There's much more than that on our news. But I wonder, do such videos as you descibe really exist? I'm old enough to remember the "snuff video" hysteria of a few decades ago, and the "satanic ritual abuse" stuff of the 90s, and a few other lots of scaremongering/exteme attention seeking things that have been out there. More often than not, what was claimed to be "some big group of scary people doing nasty stuff" never existed. Do videos like you describe exist?

                "Humans are awful, and it is quite clear you've live so sanitized a life that you haven't the first clue exactly how awful it is that we get."

                Mr Pott, I like and respect a lot of what you write. However, there are times when you can be a totally clueless or insensitive fuckwit. YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT HELL I HAVE EXPERIENCED. And it is not for you to know, either. But I do know, from first hand experience, what lows people are capable of.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  @anonymous coward

                  First off, yes, those sorts of videos do exist. Boy do I (and a lot of traumatized journos) wish they didn't. And yes, there are scary groups of horrible people doing exactly these sorts of terrible things. It's one of the reasons that, for example, those ISIS fuckpantaloons are so hated. Though there are a whole bunch of genocidal asshats in sub-saharan Africa and south-east Asia that also get their rocks off doing that sort of shit and then posting it online, too.

                  As for the ""snuff video" hysteria of a few decades ago"...you know, that wasn't entirely overhyped. I can remember one video in particular that I ran across that I couldn't close fast enough. What I saw still haunts me in the dark hours of the night as I lie in bed trying to sleep...and I am pretty sure that having closed it less than 10 seconds in to a two minute .avi, I missed the really horrible stuff. I don't buy into the idea that organized crime was depopulating small towns to make snuff porn for the deranged westerner or any of that...but you know what? There's some really sick fucking shit on the internets.

                  Never, ever doubt the depth of man's inhumanity to man.

                  Secondly, regarding your "YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT HELL I HAVE EXPERIENCED. And it is not for you to know, either. But I do know, from first hand experience, what lows people are capable of." diatribe...put simply: I don't believe you. If you had seen the lows of humanity I'd fully expect you to be capable of empathy towards those who have also had to deal with witnessing traumatic events, and your posts indicate that you don't have that empathy.

                  Unless, of course, you're a sociopath. They tend to be able to take a "just suck it up and move on with it" approach to witnessing trauma. I'd hardly call that a positive thing, but it is what it is...

                  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: @anonymous coward

                      yadda yadda context

                      Nope. The context here is the assertion that people can't be "traumatized" by looking at files. That's the bullshit assertion for which I'm taking you to task. If you want to have a fight about the propriety of Microsoft rifling through people's files an unknown amount for unknown reasons and for unknown masters, well, we can argue about that too, if you'd like.

                      You truly are a clueless worthless peice of shit, and I deeply regret the time I have wasted READING YOUR WORTHLESS FUCKING TRASH.

                      Life's full of bad decisions.

                      You make the claims about what you've done as a journalist yet you judge me and what I have suffered based on a few posts on here?

                      Actually, I don't make a lot of claims about "what I've done as a journalist". Usually, I talk about what I've done as a consultant, or as a sysadmin. Sometimes even as an analyst. I've actually done very little as s journalist. Oh, I've done research into some things that is probably worth a bit of braggadocio, and I've cultivated contacts (which I hear is an important thing), but I still consider myself quite "green" as a journalist.

                      As for judging you, I think you need to look at it more as questioning you. Based on what you have written, the tone you present and your word choice I absolutely question the veracity of your statements. I question that veracity based on what you write. And yes, that is a form of judgement. It is not, as you seem to imply, a final or binary judgement, but what you write absolutely influences and informs my opinion of you.

                      That, believe it or not, is an important part of being a journalist: taking the information you have available to you and making judgements. You choose what to pursue, and what not. Who to believe, and who not.

                      One part of handling people is that you work their emotions to get them to reveal things. This not only helps you further classify them, but it helps the journalist find the truth of something. Truth is more than just facts. It contains intricacies of motivation, the interplay of individuals, events, emotions and circumstances.

                      Truth versus simple facts is the difference between describing the reality of living with crushing poverty and quoting bland statistics. It is injecting sympathy, empathy, theory of mind and a sense of shared humanity into stories instead of dehumanizing, distancing and ostracizing the subject of your stories.

                      With each new post a little bit more is revealed. How I perceive you changes and evolves based on that information. So far, I have enough information to have serious questions as to your veracity. I also question your capability for empathy. More data is required to make additional calls.

                      HURRY UP AND FUCKING DIE YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT.

                      Working on it.

                      Given how you respond to other people's pain, I strongly suggest it is you who is the sociopath.

                      Ah, wouldn't that be nice? Sociopaths don't have to worry about so many things. I wish I was one!

                      It would be nice, for example, to be able to kill a mosquito without feeling horrible about it for weeks, months or even years afterwards. I'd really love to dispense with this part of me that insists on trapping them alive and dumping them outside. It's super annoying because they keep eating me.

                      Then there's that whole "inability to read the news without becoming super depressed because I tend to over empathize with the people discussed". It's a bummer, and it means I have to tightly control what I read, and when. Otherwise I become depressed and anxious to the point that it interferes with my ability to sleep or do my job.

                      I'd love to be a sociopath. Not caring about the feelings and problems of others, being able to dehumanize them or to lack a theory of mind such that I am unable to imagine that they suffer not only what I suffer, but also in ways I (hopefully) don't, won't and maybe even can't.

                      Given the diversity in our huge population, there's no reason to believe that I, personally, am able to feel every feeling there is to feel, or to think that I would respond in the same way to something as someone else, or that their experiences would mirror my own. Too much science exists to show that different people experience the same events in different ways.

                      A sociopath wouldn't care about that. They might not even consider or even be able to conceive of that. Several, for example, have tried to convince me that all people are innately selfish and every single thing, even sympathy is based in selfishness. That is how many sociopaths see not only themselves, but literally everyone else. They can't feel empathy, so they can't conceive that others feel this thing that they cannot.

                      Most people aren't like that. Most people feel sympathy and empathy. I suspect, deep down, that i feel it more than most, and possibly for a greater circle of people than most. Either way, it's wearing. Especially now, with the rise of the neo-fascists. I wish I was cold and unfeeling. Unfortunately for me, I am not.

                2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

                  Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

                  "However, there are times when you can be a totally clueless or insensitive fuckwit. YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT HELL I HAVE EXPERIENCED."

                  And, for that reason alone, your testimony must be discounted. Your evidence is personal and you will not reveal it therefore we have no way to take it into account, not can we verify it - Caps Lock not withstanding.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          "We see violence and murder, extreme murder on a daily basis. (TV Film Books) Nobody has been traumatised. Looking at a picture of upsetting scenes may upset you or even turn your stomach but to induce trauma is not possible. I've been traumatised by a series of events and isolation. I could not function and talking about it was impossible. You just froze. I want to see a picture that causes that. It would be worth millions and better than any drug."

          It is somewhat the same with me. I have witnessed and experienced some nasty stuff. Seeing it on TV and the like doesn't cause me any issues. For a while I had been watchign car crash videos on youtube, however a couple of them got a bit much, knowing it was probably real footage of real people being killed, so I stopped watching. That includes a video of someone probably dying in a car fire over a period of some minutes. I didn't watch the full thing. But I still drive daily without thinking about that and I still use the fireplace at home. I saw it, what I watched got to much, I stopped, it no longer bothers me.

          Some people do suffer trauma from seeing things though, but I somehow doubt they'd be suing like this. If something was as traumatic as these people claim, they wouldn't want to be making it so public and dragging it through the courts like this. They'd want it forgotten, not having millions more people know about it and knowing how they used to live their lives and what they willingly used to view. Yes, they willingly viewed it. They say they didn't volunteer, but they went on and did it anyway. No one held a gun to their head, and if MS was selecting them for this stuff then MS believed they had the skills to do it, and I bet a hell of a lot of other companies would've given them a job as well where they didn't get asked to watch this stuff.

          Maybe they were more willing than they want to let on, and are trying to cover? Dunno but in my own very personal and very deep experiences of trauma which have led to CPTSD and sometimes daily flashbacks that can stop me functioning for a time, this isn't how I would act. I want it dealt with quietly and privately as possible.

          1. joeaverage

            Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

            And some people just can't let go of something traumatic. veterans and civilians alike that survived horrific things in war going on to have good lives b/c they learned how to put it all behind them.

            And then there is some person who experienced something traumatic but far less than the soldier or civilian who survived the war.

            That second civilian might still be quite traumatized by it and b/c they were not part of a group who experienced it - they might have to come to terms with it alone in the sense that nobody else can talk it out with them.

            I never went to war but I had some minor problems adjusting to civilian life after my time in the military life was up. Was really good to trade stories with other veterans and chat about adjusting to civilian life again. I can't imagine having something really serious haunt me and not having someone to chat with.

        4. The First Dave Silver badge

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          "Nobody has been traumatised."

          With hindsight, I seriously wish I hadn't watched "Sherlock" the other day - I wasn't in a great mood at the start, but "traumatised" very neatly covers how I felt at the end.

      3. enormous c word

        Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

        My wife feels guilt about taking our 4yr old into Nursery for full days. I personally have necked and plucked chickens - but I can't bear to watch surgery (on people) on TV. I cannot begin to understand what effect seeing huge volumes of such images would have on me or any reasonable-minded individual - whats more, I don't want to find out. If you're ok with it, or think the average person should be ok with it, then perhaps you should seek help. If it's in *the cloud*, then it has been made public and shareable - no matter what you think you know or think should be the case. I really don't have a problem with any such (public) information being reviewed and reported. I just pity those who have to review it.

        1. Dave Hilling

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          I definitely see how it could be traumatizing. I have spent 20 years in the Military seen some crazy videos etc, and I even hunt deer and other animals. I personally hate the blood and guts of it sure I survive, but others don't do as well... even with hunting I love eating deer meat etc, but I never NEVER have gotten completely used to the gutting etc from shot to plate, I still often gag. I do the skinning/gutting because it's necessary to turn bambi into a yummy dinner, but putting me in a job such as this filtering through things like kiddy porn...nope no way I quit.

          I do wonder though what else they might be searching for, I only use onedrive because my company uses office 365. We do a lot of work for the government and while nothing we do or save on onedrive should be classified, if many items in someone's one drive were aggregated together they could be unknowingly become classified, and that means someone at microsoft potentially has access to aggregate classified data. I am sure many other companies would have at least sensitive data on there they thought was encrypted and private, but may not be.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          "If it's in *the cloud*, then it has been made public and shareable - no matter what you think you know or think should be the case. I really don't have a problem with any such (public) information being reviewed and reported. I just pity those who have to review it."

          Do you have a laptop? Do you sometimes take that laptop out of the house? Since the information on your laptop is in a public place while you're on the street, should any one be allowed to check it's contents whenever they want? After all, it is in a publicly accessible location. Or perhaps someone who works for the council, since they "own" (ie they're responsible for upkeep and have laws they can enforce) the public spaces? You've chosen to put the contents of your laptop into a public space after all.

          Or do you think there's some level of privacy you can expect, because you're not actually sharing that data with anyone?

          http://lifehacker.com/the-best-cloud-storage-services-that-protect-your-priva-729639300 could be of interest to you and others, especially in a thread about MS trolling people's personal data that hasn't been shared with others!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

      BB, keep in mind that it's claimed that they were assigned to this sickening task against their wishes, they did not volunteer. If true, I have to agree that it's a terrible job to force on someone. If MS offered double pay and people volunteered, that would be different.

      1. Fan of Mr. Obvious

        Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

        I get where you are going, but according to the post one of the plaintiffs was working for a contractor of MS "doing the same work." He then hired on with MS to do the same thing!

        Would reviewing this stuff day in, day out cause serious damage? If you were somewhat sensible going in my vote is in the definite column. Did at least one of these guys volunteer? If he knew what the job was before he was hired then it is on him in my opinion.

        "Blauert began working for Microsoft contractor Society Consulting in 2011 doing content screening, the complaint says, and was hired by Microsoft in 2012 as a full-time employee doing the same work. He claimed disability in 2013."

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

        "If MS offered double pay and people volunteered, that would be different"

        Sometimes the people who may volunteer for that role are not the people you would want in that role?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

          "Sometimes the people who may volunteer for that role are not the people you would want in that role?"

          Would not necessarily be so bad. We know they cannot get more fucked up by what they see. They get to meet their desires in a safe and controlled place, we get to watch them and make sure they're safe elsewhere, and we get people who aren't going to be botheed by this shit.

          Maybe this can be a good system. Those who are in prison for the rest of their lives so we know they'll never get out and touch a kid again? Give them a computer, a stream of material to view, and have them fitted with one of those cock rings the psychs use to measure erectile response. If they crack a fat then you know they've liked something, and the comptuer automatically flags that as sus. Makes these people a bit more useful while they're rotting in jail.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

            " We know they cannot get more fucked up by what they see. They get to meet their desires in a safe and controlled place, [...]"

            The problem is that those people are often the most zealous about prosecuting other people for their own dark thoughts. They see everything framed through their own desires - and try to prove that they themselves are otherwise.

            One of the things that drives people to seek positions of power over the lives of others - is their own desperate need for control of themselves and their environment. It is always those on a moral crusade who portray themselves as superior - and that everyone else is too weak to be trusted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

              "One of the things that drives people to seek positions of power over the lives of others - is their own desperate need for control of themselves and their environment. It is always those on a moral crusade who portray themselves as superior - and that everyone else is too weak to be trusted."

              I know that from my own life. Such a big moral crusader. Such a perfect person. So many broken lives in their wake. But they're perfect, they only do this stuff becuase they are so right.

          2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

            Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

            "Those who are in prison for the rest of their lives so we know they'll never get out and touch a kid again? Give them a computer, a stream of material to view, and have them fitted with one of those cock rings the psychs use to measure erectile response. If they crack a fat then you know they've liked something, and the comptuer automatically flags that as sus. Makes these people a bit more useful while they're rotting in jail."

            Wow. I think you may have less humanity than some of those you seek to use.

            Here's *hoping* you're a troll.

            Or perhaps we should have you psychologically screened. Y'know, just in case you're some sort of danger to society. We can measure your erectile response to torturing people, for instance. I'm sure you'll be just fine....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

              "Wow. I think you may have less humanity than some of those you seek to use.

              Here's *hoping* you're a troll."

              I'll admit to being a little trollish on that, but you may've missed some of my meaing. There are those inside who are inside because they had and liked this sort of material, and if my understanding of some American sentences is correct (300 years or something like that) then they're never going to realistically get out. If they like the material and can't be made any worse by it, maybe they can be given something to do? I would never suggest anything like this as a punishment.

              Some people find some footage deeply upsetting, other people find the same footage tolerable. That doesn't make them sociopaths. I've slaughtered and butchered animals both for food and for market, and I've spent hundreds on vet bills for a stray cat that only came to steal from my own pets. And we won't much go into what I've spent on charities, especially children's charities here and abroad over the years.

              Just because I can do one thing and can see it done without any real pain doesn't mean I get any enjoyment from it. Some things I can handle without shedding a tear, other things have me bawling (big tough man that I am!) in seconds. Other people would laugh at someone shedding a tear at what makes me cry, yet would be begging for footage to be stopped that I can handle. Different things affect different people in different ways. Death doesn't generally affect me anywhere near as much as pain does, especially when we're talking certain forms of torture or torment.

              "Or perhaps we should have you psychologically screened. Y'know, just in case you're some sort of danger to society. We can measure your erectile response to torturing people, for instance. I'm sure you'll be just fine...."

              Some people have already judged me as such, based on a tiny snapshot of what I've said online as an AC, rather than in how I live. Of course, given the nature of psychologists and their extemes of "making shit up as they go along", few people would come out with a clean bill of health. Show me a man who has a psychologist say he's OK, and I'll show you a man who hasn't been tested by the right psychologist.

              1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

                Re: poor widdle snowflakes... wait, what?

                "If they like the material and can't be made any worse by it, maybe they can be given something to do?"

                This depends on whether you see pedophilia as an "illness" or not, I suppose. If its a mental health condition then I wouldn't be comfortable exploiting it for any reason. I'm also uncomfortable with 300 years in prison being the right way to treat the condition. If, on the other hand, you see it as a willful crime then surely feeding the criminal habit with more material will prevent any chance of rehabilitation and therefore would only be a punishment, which you have indicated you'd not find acceptable or appropriate.

                "Some people have already judged me as such, based on a tiny snapshot..."

                You don't get more snapshotty than someone arrested for a pic on their oneDrive. Society has a tendancy to judge people as pedos forever, based on little more than an accusation and whether found innocent or guilty. Rightly, you point out that people shouldn't judge you, as a whole, based on a single instance of data. I'd say the same about judging someones mental health, or illegal proclivities (depending on how you see it), on the basis of the content of a file.

                "Show me a man who has a psychologist say he's OK, and I'll show you a man who hasn't been tested by the right psychologist."

                On this, I entirely agree. There is no "normal" baseline and psychology is largely guided by the pharmaceutical industries for reasons of profit, but thats probably a whole series of upvote and downvotes for another debate.

    3. Palpy

      Re: "poor widdle snowflakes..." Et tu, Bomba Bob?

      We is curious, Bob: if you had a 5-year-old daughter who was gang-raped and then slowly snuffed, and the video was posted online, would you wish the officers o' de law to track down where it was first uploaded (onto OneDrive, say), and by whom?

      Or would you just write your kid off as a loss, and have a good laugh on the whole thing down at the bar?

      That's a little bit of an unfair question, but the difficulty is that we're talking about evidence of damnably heinous crimes.

      I'm all for privacy. I'm also all for the perps of sadistic crimes getting caught and put away. And that's the dilemma in a nutshell, I think. I see no answer which preserves perfect privacy, and still facilitates these nastiest of criminal types getting their comeuppance.

      As far as the people required to vet the files... well, if my employer required me to view gay fetish porn 8 hours a day (let alone child snuff porn), then I'd effing quit. I couldn't do it. The psychological effect on most people of witnessing intimate personal violence is called post-traumatic stress syndrome -- except that if the precipitating events are ongoing then it can hardly be post-traumatic. It's just bloody ongoing traumatic.

      Actually, as I sit here half-seas-over and think, it seems that this situation really points up the thorniness of individual privacy versus public good. Again, I see no easy answer.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        @palpy

        Then in that situation the police can damn well get a warrant! It does NOT excuse Microsoft trawling through people's files just to see what's there. "If you had a daughter..." fuck off. That's the worst kind of bullshit appeal to emotion with no actual debate value.

        1. Palpy

          Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

          And I'm responding to Mr. Bombastic, who likes to overstate things. Back at him, so to speak.

          But the greater question remains: What if trawling through online files, whether OneDrive or Dropbox or some nasty repository on the darkweb, gets some seriously psychopathic predators put away? That is a pretty high public good, given the nastiness of these criminals. Where then do we draw the line between individual privacy and public good?

          This is not a new question, eh? Old as the Code of Hammurabi. (Well, maybe not quite.)

          What is new, perhaps, is the ability to share first-person evidence of criminal activity over digital media.

          Serious question: does this change things? Or do we just ignore the possibility of finding psychopaths and eliminating the harm they do, absent other incriminating evidence?

          How much culpability accrues to those who host such files? What is their responsibility? Are they to honor only the individual right to privacy, or should they also honor a responsibility to the public good?

          *shrug* I do not accept "damned well get a warrant" as an answer. It's simple. But the situation is not.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

            Nobody has a problem with them going after child pornographers and murders. The problem is that just as soon as they can automate the trawling they'll be going after someone with a dime bag of weed or who fixed their neighbor's deck for $100 and a case of beer, but didn't have the proper permits or report to the taxman.

            If we allow LEAs and spooks an inch, they'll take the whole fucking galaxy. This has been proven time after time after time after time.

            I, for one, do not consent to live in a fucking panopticon. Especially since I do not accept the morality of the batshit crazy protestant fundementals that run the place I live in. A place I never had a choice about, but was born into their puritanical laws and hateful bigotry.

            I don't think it's okay to create a society in which every single infraction is catalogued (and eventually automatically prosecuted). Change requires the ability to dissent. Dissent isn't possible in the panopticon. Do remember: it's only a few of us that get the opportunity to choose which laws we live under.

            Put the screws to people long enough and eventually they'll be more than willing to choose death rather than submission. At that point, you've got a problem on your hands.

            1. oiseau Silver badge
              Big Brother

              Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

              " ... do not consent to live in a fucking panopticon.

              Dissent isn't possible in the panopticon."

              Quite so ...

              As this goes on (and it 'will' go on) before we know it we'll have a thought patrol screening your opinions (political, social or whatever) with the ones in charge holding you accountable for thinking outside the accepted (by them) boundaries.

              Interesting times indeed.

          2. Rattus Rattus

            Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

            Bombastic Bob may be a twit, but even he occasionally has a point.

            By the way, I must apologise for my language. In retrospect, I should have simply referred you to the correspondence in the matter of Arkell v Pressdram, 1971.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

            "But the greater question remains: What if trawling through online files, whether OneDrive or Dropbox or some nasty repository on the darkweb, gets some seriously psychopathic predators put away? "

            And what about when they get it wrong? When they report someone's innocent files as child porn because the person at microsoft doesn't get the context of the file? Maybe I decide I don't like you and add some things to an account in your name? And what else are they looking for using automated systems? Perhaps you are stupid enough to share some code snippets with some friends on there? Perhaps some other data that someone at microsoft decides is more valuable to them than to you? Why are they going through your files when other cloud storage companies don't and even make it so that they can't, only the owner and those they share it with?

            I run an Owncloud server for me and some friends. The server copies of the files are encrypted and I cannot see what is in there. that seems to be the default for everyone else other than microsoft. Why are they doing this?

            1. ecofeco Silver badge

              Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

              And what about when they get it wrong? When they report someone's innocent files as child porn because the person at microsoft doesn't get the context of the file?

              This has already happened before the Internet (or in the early days). Some people who had their kids bath pictures processed at the local drugstore were arrested and prosecuted. There were eventually found innocent, but at great cost to their lives. (I believe that might be found on google as I am reporting from memory on this one and this was not the only case)

              1. lorisarvendu

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                "This has already happened before the Internet (or in the early days). Some people who had their kids bath pictures processed at the local drugstore were arrested and prosecuted. There were eventually found innocent, but at great cost to their lives. (I believe that might be found on google as I am reporting from memory on this one and this was not the only case)"

                This was BBC presenter Julia Somerville back in 1995. I remember this on the news.

                http://www.independent.co.uk/news/julia-somerville-defends-innocent-family-photos-1538516.html

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                "Some people who had their kids bath pictures processed at the local drugstore were arrested and prosecuted."

                I can remember one instance of this - I'm not sure it went as far as arrest and prosecution. The person concerned was a well-known and respected newsreader and the whole thing backfired. The photo-processor got some bad publicity out of it.

                Personally I can't really see the point of taking pictures of your kids in the bath unless you're planning to embarrass them when they get older but some people seem to do it.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                  "Personally I can't really see the point of taking pictures of your kids in the bath unless you're planning to embarrass them when they get older but some people seem to do it"

                  Since the advent of photography people have been documenting their children's lives - usually the happy times. That means holidays and playful moments. The majority of family albums from the1970s onwards would include some beach or bath-time shots.

                  About 20 years ago there was flurry of prosecutions of naturist families centred on their family albums. In the UK the guidelines about "indecent" pictures are very broad. Most family albums would contain something that would fall into those categories - even full clothed.

                  The fact that teenagers are embarrassed by certain childhood pictures is common. Those same pictures will be treasured by them when they are older and looking back on their life. Our sense of identity is formed from our memories - and those of our friends and family

                  1. Triggerfish

                    Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                    No the war stuff is real, and really heavily censored, even the non censored stuff can be a little disturbing. I saw film of a small kid of around 5 or 6 with his whole head from the neck up buried under a pile of rubble halfway up a house, while the rest of his lttle body was wriggling helpless I found that pretty fucked up for example. I think I found that more fucked up than some blood and guts tbh. Although have seen some awful photos as well from friends in the military, trust me they are really not nice, a tank for example running over a human body is not pretty thing.

                    Hell people in first aid training can find some of the example photos pretty harsh and awful.

                    You're not even going to see that stuff watching car crash videos on yourtube I think, for a start no one, especially ones with people buring to death (not even asking why you watched these) is going to get as nasty as it could, for a start doubt they could get the camera close enough to see how fucked up someone burning slowly to death in agony is really like.

                    But if you really think the stuff they are showing you on the news is uncensored and thats what a real mess looks like then you have been lucky. I have seen some bad accidents that were bad enough, fuck knows what the worst of a market looks like when you let off a car bomb, but you wont be seeing it on the news.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                      "But if you really think the stuff they are showing you on the news is uncensored and thats what a real mess looks like then you have been lucky. I have seen some bad accidents that were bad enough, fuck knows what the worst of a market looks like when you let off a car bomb, but you wont be seeing it on the news."

                      What many people don't realise it that what upsets one is OK for another, and enjoyable for still another. You can go to youtube and see what I am sure is very real footage of nasty accidents and so on. Some can watch it, I can't.

                      Much stuff is uncensored because it is distance, eg the much repeated video of a plane going into the WTC towers. In that instant hundreds of people died, and thousands more died from the fires and the collapse of the towers. Some of those people suffered agony few can imagine in their worst nightmares. But the footage of their deaths is considered fine for tea-time news every few months, because you don't actually see someone burning to death or dying violent in a crash. We do often get to see people so tormented that they'd rather leap from a building than risk dying in some other way. Also on our tea-time news while we eat our dinner.

                      I know what a bad accident looks like. I don't need video, only my memory to see that.

                2. lorisarvendu

                  Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                  "Personally I can't really see the point of taking pictures of your kids in the bath unless you're planning to embarrass them when they get older but some people seem to do it."

                  A parent (such as I am) doesn't do that because there's a "point" to it, or to embarrass them at a later date (though that is something that you will almost certainly do). We do it because we love our kids and take every opportunity to take photos of them whenever we can, and in whatever situation.

                  Bath-time is one of the most enjoyable times for both parent and child, and there's few things cuter than your kid grinning up at you from a mass of soap-suds.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                It was some British TV presenters husband if I remember, who is a pro photographer, hence dozens of photos of the same thing per shoot.

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                See http://pbfcomics.com/215/

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                  "http://pbfcomics.com/215/"

                  Too true. A UK naturist acquaintance pled guilty to what his solicitor termed "a technical offence" and was given probation. He was advised that the alternative was to risk a jury conviction that would probably mean a jail sentence under the escalating minimum sentencing rules.

                  The judge apologised for the minimum sentence he had to impose. He also said that if the police hadn't culled a few seconds from the family home video tape then he wouldn't have even noticed it.

                  The police investigation had started because someone made a malicious anonymous phone call to the police - presumably because they didn't like naturists. The police then asked if the naturist had any home videos - which he innocently gave them.

            2. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

              "I run an Owncloud server for me and some friends. The server copies of the files are encrypted and I cannot see what is in there. that seems to be the default for everyone else other than microsoft. Why are they doing this?"

              you make an extremely good point. And, by the way, thanks for doing things the _right_ way and protecting the users' privacy. [I have heard of other services that do this as well, such as on-line backup services]

              They (Micro-shaft) are doing what they do because THEY CAN. And so they cannot be trusted. It's part of the POLITICS of MICRO-SHAFT. MSNBC is owned by them, after all. They tried to shove Win-10-nic up our backsides for a year, and AGGRESSIVELY so, complete with deceptive 'click the red x' behavior of GWX. None of this should come as a surprise. Once you understand how they think, it's simply appalling, and you wanna just face-palm all of the time in response.

              At least, now, it's out in the open where anyone can read about it.

              [It would not surprise me at ALL if the capability of rifling through everyone's on-line content was a part of their original plan/design for OneDrive. No surprise at ALL]

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                " "I run an Owncloud server for me and some friends. The server copies of the files are encrypted and I cannot see what is in there. that seems to be the default for everyone else other than microsoft. Why are they doing this?"

                you make an extremely good point. And, by the way, thanks for doing things the _right_ way and protecting the users' privacy. [I have heard of other services that do this as well, such as on-line backup services]"

                Thanks for your thanks. I believe most places do encrypt users data. I have used dropbox, box, copy and mega for not-so-sensitive stuff, ie stuff that I wouldn't care it was published on a billboard outside my home. From what I recall most of these firms have your stuff encrypted on their server.

                Thinking about it. Wasn't a big part of the lawsuits around megaupload because they could see what was being stored on their machines, and were considered liable for the content because they knew it was there? Haven't ms put themselves not only into the same situation but even worse, now that it can be said they are knowingly handling child porn and not only that but if their programs suggest a file needs to be looked at and someone other than law enforcement then seeks and views that file, knowing it probably contains child porn or other stuff, aren't they getting into very dangerous legal grounds? How well can "microsoft pays me to view child porn and I was only doing my job" cover them?

                Think it's time mr law enforcement took a very close look at ms's practices in this regard, and arrests the whole ms board etc on production of child porn (coz they probably make copies of the material), distribution (they somehow send it make it available to those who view it even if being paid to do so), procure (seek and download) and so on this stuff. Now that could be fun. Perhaps mr "i'm so traumatised I need to sue" can share a cell with the people who paid them to view it.

                "At least, now, it's out in the open where anyone can read about it."

                Just like all your private data with MS these days.

                "[It would not surprise me at ALL if the capability of rifling through everyone's on-line content was a part of their original plan/design for OneDrive. No surprise at ALL]"

                I recall somethign many years back with not-so-hotmail, when MS took over. Something in their t&cs where they claimed copyright or ownership or whatever of everything written on/sent via their "service". There was concern from programmers at the time that MS would be trolling source code for usable bits. And, as you sent it thorugh hotmail and their terms were public, you could not claim you owned the code. This reminds me of that very much, and I am glad I don't use onedrive.

          4. MrDamage

            Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

            > "Where then do we draw the line between individual privacy and public good?"

            We draw it in the sand before sections 59c and 59d of the Anti-Crime Code becomes a reality.

          5. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

            Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

            "What if trawling through online files, whether OneDrive or Dropbox or some nasty repository on the darkweb, gets some seriously psychopathic predators put away?"

            Guns are illegal in the UK, and shootings happen.

            Do you think that it is commensurate to suggest that each and every citizen of the UK should be subjected to regular, random house searches (carried out by private contracters, without a warrant or notice or your consent) to ensure we don't have guns hidden away? It would be for the public good and we may catch a few criminals that way for certain, but does the cost justify the result?

            This approach is known as utilitarianism, a philosophy that espouses that what is good for the majority must be good for the whole. Unfortunately, it is a flawed idea as could be seen in its inception, championed by great thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham. It was put forward that having the poor and dispossesed, vagrants and beggars on the streets of London was damaging to the majority, the whole, of London itself as they were believed to be sources of disease, crime and deliquency. The mere appearance of them offended the sensibilities of most citizens, it was offered. Therefore it was posited that a solution would be to give them work, shelter and food. Taking them from the streets and mitigating the social deviances they were surely the source of.

            This led to something called the "Poor Act of 1834" and something called the Work House, which I hope you are familiar with and not in agreement with. Utilitarianism is dangerous and beguiling idea and I am dissapointed to see its rise under the guise of social engineering once again.

            http://www.studymore.org.uk/ssh5.htm

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

              "[...] championed by great thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham."

              Who also came up with the idea of the Panopticon - where a large number of people could be efficiently watched 24 hours a day by a few appointed guards in order to detect/prevent any proscribed activities.

              1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

                Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                "Who also came up with the idea of the Panopticon."

                Exactly. An idea that, on the surface of it, might seem like an equitable solution to a problem like crime. Utilitarianism at its best!

                Until it's inflicted on you.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @palpy: Yup. Quite bullshitty.

                  "Until it's inflicted on you."

                  Theresa May is getting there. The Snooper's Charter is a modern implementation of the panopticon.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: @palpy

          "That's the worst kind of bullshit appeal to emotion with no actual debate value."

          good summary. I wasn't going to respond to it [trolling, straw-man, etc.]

          Besides - people who would do such things, would know me and fear me. Heh.

          If I had to do that job, I'd most likely become calloused to it, sorta like internet shock sites that just aren't shocking any more. It's not something I'd necessarily enjoy.

          But the MORE DISTURBING part is the fact that they WERE going through things and looking at them! So, 'get a warrant' indeed. Let the COPS do that part, with judicial permission. It's THEIR job.

          And I have no sympathy for people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, "feel" everything, and so on. That should be obvious. Natural selection would've "selected them out" back in the cave-days. Unfortunately, in the modern era, NEGATIVE genetics like *that* are being re-enforced by enriching them via wimpy-ass LAWSUITS. Idiocracy anyone? 'Nuff.

          And sometimes you just have to admit that Patton was right. "Man up". PTSD is real, but a swift kick in the ass should be a major part of the therapy.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @palpy

            And I have no sympathy for people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, "feel" everything, and so on. That should be obvious. Natural selection would've "selected them out" back in the cave-days. Unfortunately, in the modern era, NEGATIVE genetics like *that* are being re-enforced by enriching them via wimpy-ass LAWSUITS. Idiocracy anyone? 'Nuff.

            And sometimes you just have to admit that Patton was right. "Man up". PTSD is real, but a swift kick in the ass should be a major part of the therapy.

            Say that to my face. I fucking dare you.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. joeaverage

              Re: @palpy

              I always thought the interesting thing about heros like Patton was that they weren't fighting, killing and dying - they were the planners in semi-safe places then touring the aftermath.

              Pretty easy to say "suck it up" to a man when you weren't in the trench with him...

              i figure people like Patton and this guy here telling folks to suck it up ought to be offering their services in a warzone somewhere. They can't be affected by the miseries of war - and the military could certainly use someone like that.

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                @joeaverage -- Re: @palpy

                I think you pretty much hit the nail dead center except for one point. My tendency at one point if someone told me to "suck it up" wasn't, shall we say, gentle. I'm calmer now. Less traumatized.

                The point I take issue with is that actually, people like what you mention shouldn't be in charge or even near a war-zone. They're the ones who toss lives away and do more harm to their own side. Patton to some degree, was an exception but not completely.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: "poor widdle snowflakes..." Et tu, Bomba Bob?

        @Palpy there are absolutely solutions. I can even tell you exactly how this should be handled. Of course, because we are humans and only accept extremes, it will never be implemented. Here's how this should be handled:

        1) Software should be designed such that the vendor can not crack open the storage. Period. Absolute privacy.

        2) They key (or password) that unlocks the storage should be mandated by law to be stored with a third party in key escrow. That third party should be a quasi-government body that is subject to civilian oversight by civil liberties organizations.

        3) If there is reasonable suspicion of a major crime, the police should be able to get a warrant to get the key/password from the escrow entity and then go to the vendor and unlock the storage.

        4) That data should, by law, only be reviewable by specially trained and bonded individuals who work for the law enforcement agencies (not the vendor). These people should not be allowed to perform industrial espionage or to comb the storage for evidence of minor crimes.

        This provides a balance between the good of society to hunt down violent criminals/rapists/organized crime and the good of society in restricting police from going on broad fishing expeditions.

        It's one thing to crack open the safe in order to get at videos of rape and murder. It's another to install cameras in everyone's home to ensure you never smoke a joint, do a side job without declaring it, or put out one extra bag of garbage to the curb.

        Of course, the police would never accept this because they believe in thier "right" to go on massive fishing expeditions. The people, consequently, won't have that because lawmakers put in place ridiculous and dumb laws designed to damaged identifiable groups, and then use them against everyone for decades. Nobody can be trusted, and thus everyone needs to work within limits. Of course, nobody is willing to accept any limits whatsoever.

        People suck.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "poor widdle snowflakes..." Et tu, Bomba Bob?

          The main argument against your plan (aside from the coppers') is the issue of abuse. I mean abuse of this system by unscrupulous types. Maybe it could be made safe and maybe it couldn't, but it's new and with the current climate of technofear about digital security, It's going to be a very tough sell. The police won't really have to do much opposing because so many others will be doing it.

          At least that's how I visualize it happening, could be wrong.

      3. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: "poor widdle snowflakes..." Et tu, Bomba Bob?

        Ignoring your false dilemma argument, Palpy, as you admit it's unfair, I want to address something else you said: "would you wish the officers o' de law to track down where it was first uploaded (onto OneDrive, say), and by whom?"

        Yes, I'd want officers of the law, duly appointed and empowered by the state legislature, backed up by judicial procedure and legal warrants, to investigate to the fullest extent of their powers....

        ....but that doesn't mean I give a microsoft employee those rights verbatim and ad hoc to scruitinise my, and anyone elses data, just in case that ever happens. They are NOT police or law, and MAY be criminals themselves. - what garuntee do I have that my personal data is not being copied by a disgruntled employee for their own purposes or profit?

        We do not, and cannot accept a stateful condition of pre-crime for all, and government legislation that forces private companies to carry out "screenings" to "find evidence" of crime is a step towards a very dystopian view of privacy and individual rights. The assumption of guilt is not a good way to go.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "poor widdle snowflakes..." Et tu, Bomba Bob?

        We is curious, Bob: if you had a 5-year-old daughter who was gang-raped and then slowly snuffed, and the video was posted online, would you wish the officers o' de law to track down where it was first uploaded (onto OneDrive, say), and by whom?

        Anyone who throws up such a ridiculous strawman deserves a little chlorine in their gene pool.

  4. Vimes

    Funny how 'Forget privacy: we want to shaft you and your quaint notion of privacy - for the children!' never seems to make it into the sales pitch...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft should probably pay out and move on

    And perhaps accept that looking at these images and videos isn't exactly a job just about anyone can do. In fact, I'm surprised Microsoft didn't settle this before it became news! The people who store these images should be bought to some kind of justice; not warned to encrypt the files....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft should probably pay out and move on

      You got that right. Who in their right minds would think this assignment is just another job? It was guaranteed to blow up in their faces sooner or later.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Microsoft should probably pay out and move on

      Society has a ton of sociopaths. Why can't we use them for this sort of work, where they might be actually useful, instead of making them politicians?

      1. Vimes

        @trevor_pott

        They'd spend too much time looking through customer files for golden shower pictures and wouldn't get anything actually done.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          It would still keep them off the streets . . .

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: @trevor_pott

          Looking through files for things that disturb normal people would be the use to which I was suggesting the sociopaths be put...

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Microsoft should probably pay out and move on

      "The people who store these images should be bought to some kind of justice; not warned to encrypt the files..."

      They probably won't encrypt anything. Usually crooks aren't very smart, which is why you find 'dumb crook' web sites and news bytes all over the place.

      However, it's _ALSO_ not MICRO-SHAFT's job to be "world police".

      /me hums "Micro-shaft... *FEEL* YEAH! Making the world a better place! Micro-shaft, *FEEL* YEAH!" ['Feel' is the new 'F' word]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft should probably pay out and move on

        "However, it's _ALSO_ not MICRO-SHAFT's job to be "world police"."

        You are correct the law is the responsibility of no one. It's the responsibility of everyone!

  6. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Related case

    A Canadian Mountie has launched a similar suit, alleging PTSD.

    http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/surrey-mountie-ptsd-child-porn-1.3891306

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Stress

    Viewing some of the real crap put out by "humanity" would break anyone with enough time. I heard about a study on combat fatigue in WWII and how long a soldier could take the strain before ye olde nerves went. It was the cumulative strain over time that did them in. Other than timescale, seeing these images every day would slowly grind one down until the cumulative strain did them in. The failure here is Slurp did account for this in their personal policies; something that one should have foreseen.

  8. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

    Neither OneDrive nor Dropbox (and presumably not Google Drive) can be trusted. Use Sync.com for a sync-n-share solution that is designed from the start such that the vendor can't crack open the storage and poke around inside. Not only that, they're Canadian, so it's at least a wee bit harder for the government to useless try to demand they do so.

    Now consider this: Onedrive is built both into the OS and into Office. It is a miserable to change and nearly impossible to remove default. The fact that Microsoft can and do go rifling around in our Onedrive accounts means that everything Microsoft tells us about their "commitment" to privacy and security are absolute bullshit.

    Microsoft's continual demands of "trust us" aren't just wearing thin...they should, at this point, be considered criminally misleading.

    1. RudderLessIT

      Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

      I have two kids under 9.

      You are having a cry about MS or other organisations proactively searching for illegal and sickening content - to report to the authorities.

      Cry me a river, princess.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

        Rudderless, consider this:

        You take a few photos of your kids playing in the bath.

        Or on the beach or whatever. They're having fun, you want to remember that moment and it's wonderful.

        You back those photos up onto OneDrive.

        Some time later the Feds turn up on your doorstep, grab you and bundle you into a black car.

        After months of pre-trial incarceration, you discover that somebody at Microsoft misread the context of your photos and reported them as being child porn.

        Fortunately you have an expensive lawyer and manage to convince the judge/jury that they're normal innocent photos of the type a proud parent might take.

        In the meantime, your kids have been taken into care, you've loat your job, had your reputation ruined and your life destroyed.

        If you can't afford said expensive lawyer, well...

        Still want Microsoft to proactively search your OneDrive?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

          "You take a few photos of your kids playing in the bath."

          When you consider the *AGGRESSIVE* *NANNY* *STATE* aspect, this is highly realistic.

          there are just TOO MANY out there, "Ninny Nannies", who are TOO WILLING to mind EVERYBODY ELSE'S BUSINESS, instead of LEAVING PEOPLE THE *FEEL* ALONE and letting US mind OUR own business, thank you very much.

          Privacy is important. There are _OTHER_ (better) ways of catching criminals that do _NOT_ involve privacy invasion, *ESPECIALLY* by a 3rd party like MICRO-SHAFT.

          I have considered doing something *LIKE* taking photos of 'troll dolls' in ways that might "trigger" their inspection of them, and then DELIBERATELY uploading them to a OneDrive directory, just to tweek them. but I'd have to spend time doing that, and I have better things to do...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files? @RudderLessIT

        And you know what....

        You or your family/friends are the most likely ones to harm your children! Three a week are killed by abuse or neglect in the UK (Gilbert, 2008)

        So anyone that uses "Think of the children" as a reason to invade my privacy can fcuk off, then fcuk off some more and when they get there fcuk off a bit further

      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

        Why should anyone else have their rights removed because you couldn't keep your legs closed? Why is it our problem you reproduced?

        I am upset because one highly untrustworthy organization (Microsoft) has unrestricted access to our files and is using this to not only search our files but then report on us to another highly untrustworthy set of organizations (LEAs/spooks). You, personally, may like the fact that one of the net results of this is that content that you find disturbing is reported. Grand. I disagree.

        I am not remotely a fan of child pornography, or snuff videos, etc. That said, I do rather enjoy sex that goes beyond bland missionary position where everyone is clothed in Victorian attire and accompanied by a dozen chaperones. What I watch is probably illegal in the UK (though not in Canada), and I'm sure it's illegal in half the states of the USA. NOW we're into some murky waters.

        Just who gets to play moral guardian? And where did they obtain that power? If I'm in Canada and my files are in ????, and the US is all over the fucking world, who gets to tell me what I can or can't watch/download/put in OneDrive, etc?

        And who is to say that trawling for things that you, personally, consider "sickening" content is all they're trawling for? Maybe they also hunt dissidents for China? Or for the US? Are you okay with Microsoft going through everyone's Onedrive in order to help build lists of Muslims? What about finding out if someone is, or knows an illegal immigrant? How about pictures of weed? Or going through Skype conversations where someone talks about smoking weed?

        Where does this all end? Should we be using our cloudy surveillance powers and ability to force updates on OSes (and remember, the FBI can hack anyone int he world for any reason now!) to make sure nobody puts out an extra bag of garbage?

        I'm all for stringing up pedos and murders...but let's not lose sight of the outrageous dangers of unrestricted warrantless fishing expeditions. Especially with so many neo-facists running around wanting to lock up identifiable groups and/or hunt down political dissidents.

        I seem to recall the last time we ignored that, it ended really, really badly.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

        "I have two kids under 9.

        You are having a cry about MS or other organisations proactively searching for illegal and sickening content - to report to the authorities.

        Cry me a river, princess."

        Sure. One day you take your son camping. You wash your clothes and hang them up to dry. Your son tries to dry things faster by putting them on a stick and holding them over the fire. You think it's cute and take a picture. He's fully clothed, sitting in front of the fire innocently trying to help get clothes dry.

        You save the pictures to your onedrive account.

        Next thing you know, your kids are in state care and you and your wife are in seperate prisons awaiting trial on sex abuse and child pornography charges. You quickly learn the true nature of what people accused of such things experience in prison, made that much worse by your innocence.

        All because MS trolled your account looking for pictures of sexual abuse, found what might be some, and called the authorities.

        Since you're in prison charged with sexual offences against children, should I "cry you a river" then? After all, your case came about because they were "proactively searching for illegal and sickening content - to report to the authorities."

        See http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/accused_of_child_pornography/ for where I got this from. I don't make any claims about the truthfulness or otherwise of the article.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

      The article does not state if the files they were going through were public folders or private folders, at this point, it's just making assumptions without all the details.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: private v public

        It makes no difference - Microsoft staff have access to your private and public OneDrive data.

        Their servers, their rules.

        C.

        1. Lotaresco
          Paris Hilton

          @diodesign Re: private v public

          "Their servers, their rules."

          Quite. I know it's great to go off on one about the privacy issues, which IMO don't exist in this case. You put your stuff in the cloud? Read the T&Cs of the service (they are all slightly different) and the legislation of the jurisdiction in which the service is provided (it's not the UK in this instance). There's no presumption of privacy with cloud storage[1]. This is why my industry will not put its data with a cloud service unless there's a contract that states that the data stays in an EU member state and significant penalties if the service provider breaks that rule.

          Do people not realise that (some) admins have godlike permissions that let them see *everything* on the system?

          Paris, because she's dumb enough to stick her sex tapes in the cloud.

          [1] As some "celebs" who chose to put their selfies and home made porn on cloud storage have discovered.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @diodesign private v public

            "Dad runs the generator and it supplies power to our house" is a world away from "FuckYouCorp supply power to 1 billion souls". In the same vein "employee #18642 whom can be sued into oblivion if he gives us shit can access your corporately owned files that are located on our corporately owned servers" is a world away from "any of these employees here can access the personal files or the corporate files of your personal company of over one billion souls on this utility-class public cloud we stood up".

            Scale changes things. Also, ownership of that data maters. Microsoft don't own the data that I put into Onedrive. I do. And it doesn't matter what their Ts&Cs say, they legally can't claim ownership of that data without my say so: the laws of my nation say so.

      2. durandal

        Re: What <i>the hell</i> are Microsoft doing going through our files?

        Ben W Wells, the attorney representing Soto, in a phone interview with The Register explained that Microsoft reviews content ilsted in Bing and stored in OneDrive

        Emphasis mine. It could really have done with being spelt out in a bit more detail.

        My missus does this sort of thing for a living. People are actually that stupid that they will post, store and share child abuse material in plain sight.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    So many problems on so many levels

    In no particular order of importance:

    First MS should have asked for volunteers. Seeing the nightmare of depravity that some people are capable of is more than most people can take, let alone for long periods for time.

    Second, we now have absolute proof MS can view your on-line files. How that's cloud things working for ya?

    Third, MS, and other companies affected by this law, has effectively become a non-deputized agent of law enforcement. While informing is quite legal, being forced to spy under penalty of law is often viewed as a police state tactic. MS, and all the other companies have been basically given letters of marque.

    Fourth, the amount of depravity in the world absolutely needs, without question, to be combated and persecuted. It is one thing to trade goods and services illegally, quite another to trade in human torture and violence.

    Fifth, the lines and boundaries of privacy versus social safety are often and easily overstepped.

    I see no easy answer to any of this, yet I am reminded of the U.S. Founding Fathers specific 4th Amendment regarding search and seizure and how there are no exceptions. If you think they were not aware of secret acts of terror and violence, you would be badly mistaken. Then why did they make the Amendment so strong? Yet if the protocol is followed, then there are no rights violations.

    Here is the exact wording:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    You will note is does not say by whose oath or affirmation. However, it DOES says a particular place, person and things must be described. Open fishing IS NOT allowed.

    This is a very thorny issue, as they say, and one that will not be resolved any time soon.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: So many problems on so many levels

      >First MS should have asked for volunteers.

      There might be a leetle bit of a problem with that.

      "WANTED: volunteers to look at child porn, extreme fetish videos, and gore-filled snuff movies. Must have a strong work ethic and be a good team player with excellent communication skills. Psychotic serial killers and/or 4chan regulars preferred."

      It's a fair bet normal people won't be queuing up for the job. Conversely, anyone who does queue up for the job will be very far from normal, and very unlikely indeed to be someone you want to gift with god-like OneDrive access powers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        WANTED:Psychotic serial killers and/or 4chan regulars preferred.

        "Must have a strong work ethic and be a good team player with excellent communication skills."

        Damn, now I really need to wipe the coffee off my screen. You made my day sir.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: WANTED:Psychotic serial killers and/or 4chan regulars preferred.

          That post was a crowning moment of awesome. hats off and thumbs up!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So many problems on so many levels

        "It's a fair bet normal people won't be queuing up for the job. "

        IIRC a UK Chief Constable said he would remove people from the viewing team if they started to be dispassionate in their evaluation.

    2. Lotaresco

      Re: So many problems on so many levels

      "First MS should have asked for volunteers."

      Not a good idea. What sort of person do you think it is that wants to see this sort of stuff? In places where this sort of work is done, volunteers are treated with great suspicion.

    3. Michael Thibault
      Devil

      Re: So many problems on so many levels

      >First MS should have asked for volunteers. Seeing the nightmare of depravity that some people are capable of is more than most people can take, let alone for long periods for time.

      The point of the article seems to vary with the reader, but one aspect that gets short shrift is the effect on those doing the work over an extended period. It can't possibly be neutral. And, no, I don't believe that compulsion has to be overt; the threat, implicit or explicit, of losing you job, or having your chances of advancement coloured by whether or not you bolted the room when the subject of this particular task was raised is a real threat.

      It seems to me that if anyone at all is going to (have to) do this kind of screening (and there are obvious issues with it happening at all, which I'll skip over for the moment), it seems to me that if volunteerism is to be considered, it's a small, advisable step to take further to make it a requirement of all employees (in this instance, at MS) to serve a hitch. A short one. Seems a bit draconian, but short stints for all would, I think, on balance, have a cohesing effect on the local culture, the humanity that is there already. I'm not advocating universality for that outcome as a pay-day, but to point out that hell is best understood if it's a shared experience. And, yes, I'm aware that there's one hell within the imagery, and one in its presence.

      And, of course, knowledge being power and outrage being a strong motivator, iff the screening is to continue, then it would be very prudent to doubly-blind the screeners from any personally identifying information of onedrive users... (I catch the irony of double-blinding, btw, so no need for you to pivot on that term in any response.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, I guess now we know

    Why Microsoft insists its techs get remote access to every user's machine running Windows-10. But its ok, there's an internal Privacy Governance Council apparently!

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Not a nice job where you have to look at allsorts of pictures.

    And people will store the most weird and gross of stuff, stuff which'll give you nightmares.

    Expect a rise in the storage of gross pictures, especially in cloud storage...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "Expect a rise in the storage of gross pictures, especially in cloud storage..."

      YES!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Cloud...

    Other peoples computers you have no control over

  13. Lotaresco

    Returning to the point of the article

    I know it's great to go off on one about the privacy issues, but slightly irrelevant to the point of the article which most commentators seem to be ignoring (hanks to the few who have addressed the issue). The action against Microsoft seems completely reasonable. Sifting through this sort of material - it's difficult to call it "porn" it's simply evidence of abuse, rape and murder - would induce nightmares for most reasonable people. Doing it day in day out when you didn't want to do the work in the first place is even more degrading and distressing. I'm involved in digital forensics, don't do this sort of work and don't want to. I know police officers who have to do this sort of thing. Their employers try to take care of them because it's known that constant exposure to this material can cause PTSD and other mental problems and at the worst can de-sensitise people and turn them into consumers of this filth.

    Police investigators therefore get rotated in and out of the work, have counselling and are monitored carefully by their employer. I doubt that the sort of care needed was even recognised by Microsoft management. MS don't have either the background or the experience to undertake this work. They don't even have the experience of managing workers in this situation. This is clear from the periods of time mentioned in the article. The police tend to rotated staff out of the job after a few months. I don't know anyone who has been asked to attend and look at this class of images over a period of years.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Returning to the point of the article

      And you know what, if they didn't want to do it, involuntarilly moved to the job or not, they can always quit, find a job elsewhere, or flat out refuse.

  14. David Neil

    For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

    Don't upload your data to their cloud - simple

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

      Fuck off.

      Onedrive is built into Windows 10 and Office and made the default location. It's actually quite hard to change the defaults and even harder to pull the thing out entirely. Certainly not something the average user can be reasonably expected to do.

      My water, power and natural gas providers have to play by certain rules that basically mean they can't screw me. That's what utilities have to put up with. I submit that the large public cloud providers are utilities - especially if they are building their services directly into operating systems - and thus need to submit to the same sort of regulations.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

        " ... and thus need to submit to the same sort of regulations."

        Microsoft submiting to regulations.

        Regulations, yes.

        I see.

        My good man, surely you jest!

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

          " ... and thus need to submit to the same sort of regulations."

          like calling down a napalm strike on top of your own head because the enemies are all around you

          it would have to be an act of desperation and last resort. let's do something different, first, before things degrade to that point. Like *NOT* *DOING* *BUSINESS* *WITH* *MICRO-SHAFT*.

          Linux anyone?

      2. moiety

        Re: For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

        So what? Microsoft have been Showing Red all century for untrustworthiness and have quadrupled their efforts the past couple of years. If you put stuff on their cloud and your privacy is breached, you can try and play the victim card, I suppose, but you surely cannot claim it was a surprise.

        Regulations. heh.

      3. theOtherJT

        Re: For all you you screaming "Muh Privacy"

        Onedrive is built into Windows 10 and Office and made the default location.

        And that was but one of many straws that broke the dromedary for me. I might be stuck with the damn thing at work, but that's work's problem. I've made my objections clear and have been over-ruled, so... fine. That's the way things are. I presume our legal people will have to deal with the compatibility between that and our data protection obligations one day.

        I'm not putting up with it on any hardware I own.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Encryption.

    Encrypt your stuff and keep MS personnel sanity and health in perfect condition. Thank you.

    You perverts.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If nothing else we learn ..

    1) MS (and others) feel happy snooping through cloudy data.

    2) There's a reason encryption exists.

    Hopefully most El Reggers would have thought of (2) before (1)

  17. FuzzyWuzzys
    Unhappy

    All well and good the management saying that counselling and such like is available but unless you've had to deal with material like that on a daily basis for months at a time, you have no concept of how it affects your state of mind. I can only imagine it's like being constantly hit in the head, you become numb to it but it doesn't stop the long term damage from building up over time. My understanding is that the Police and NSPCC workers have to have special training first, then constant assessment and counselling throughout the work they do, then they have downtime at the end of assignments to allow them to help cope with what they've dealt with. You cannot expose people to horrific images and expect them to just talk to a psychologist for an hour and everything's hunky-dory.

  18. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Subsidised by loss of privacy

    When you look at how much (if at all) you pay to use cloud storage services, and then think about the cost of running that sort of infrastructure, it's fairly apparent that the service is being provided to you with some sort of subsidy. That subsidy is the fact that the service provider can access your data and use it in some way(s) themselves. Obvious example is selling for marketing purposes, but other use cases exist.

    I wonder (a) how much a similar service would cost if there was no "non-privacy subsidy" and all costs for service provision were bundled in the cost to the end user (b) how many people would be prepared to pay that much, and how many wood go "pfft...to expensive" and stick with one of the existing providers

  19. Alistair Silver badge

    Up and coming legal mandates in the US

    The bikini will be banned as vile sexual abuse of the female form, and is to be viewed as a predatory sexual instrument.

    FBI: Excuse me <Cloud service provider><ISP><Computer repair operator>, can you find us people with bikini photos? We can offer financial incentives!

    Lets take the "Abusive/Pedo/Rape/Murder/terrible thing" out of the equation and then re assess the circumstances somewhat. When you do that, the fact that MS is scanning their cloud data *at all*, most especially since it is the *default* storage point in their newest OS installations that set of actions becomes seriously questionable in and of itself.

    That we have individuals who are claiming that (I use claim here as the cases are not concluded and not written in stone) they have suffered emotional and psychological damage as a result of having to review the material they found does not strike me as in any way unexpected.

    That the claim is that MS failed to provide sufficient support for these individuals, well, its fairly clear that MS is not in this game to pay anyone one red cent that they don't have to so its rather likely that they didn't provide appropriate support. Appropriate support would be expensive. PTSD is a real thing. And some folks have higher tolerances on the Scoville scale than others, just as one example, so PTSD could be in a similar way variable in affect. Perhaps there should be *appropriate testing of the candidates* before they are so assigned, rather than trying to mop up after the job has repaved the worker's psyche?

    I *DO* get the "They was huntin pedos!!" side of the equation. Social morality at *this* time frames paedophilia as a horrendous crime.

    What other crimes will social morality dictate in the future?

    At what point do we as a society decide that fear and terror has been dictated to us in order to keep us distracted from the fact that we are still to this day effectively slaves, permitted just sufficient freedom to distract us from our slavery? What do you do when the decision is made to enforce the donation of organs, when you no longer 'really need' them?

    A private company, bulk storing user's data as part of the default installation is scanning that bulk data for evidence of crimes using barely trained operations staff who have no legal mandate and no legal training .

    Jesus FUCK people. This is not slippery slope territory. This is half way down the cliff after stepping off territory.

  20. Daz555

    I use Onedrive for backup but I encypt the data before it goes to the cloud. Surely MS can get themselves free of all this hassle by offering encryption as standard on Onedrive?

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Their encryption?

      I'd only trust it if I've used a third party (even if it is a MS product) to encrypt the files first and I am sure that the keys are safe and only accessable by me.

      I have a OneCloud account, it's empty.

    2. Jake Maverick

      it's not really encrypted- they have backdoors into everything, fact that they tell u it's encrypted is a con.....:-(

  21. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    To most of the comments here

    I'd say bollocks

    There are 2 issues here, the first AND the most important is that a number of m$ employees who had no support from the company had to view when the automation came up with a dodgy pic/video.

    Now the cops who do this stuff usually burn out after a few months, and they have trained councilors and therapists etc etc.

    To those saying 'get over it , its only a picture , thanks to m$'s way of dealing with files you get to see picture 100 after picture 10, so you may see the start of the abuse, followed by the end result, then have to trawl through pictures 11 to 99 knowing exactly whats going to happen to the victim. And know that this shit is for real, no stunt doubles, no fake blood, no sound effects woman screaming into a mic.

    and to say to people having to view that sort of shit "just go for a coffee and come back tommorrow" is completly irresponsible.

    As for the 'outrage' of having m$ trawl through your data if you upload it to their servers.... what do you expect? you would'nt upload a bunch of nsfw pictures to your company server would you? and then expect to have a job when someone asks why your 'pr0n_here' folder is 480 gig?

    "But its my data" comes the wail... not if its on someone else's computer it aint. and they'll be the ones put out to hang if a search by the cops happens to find it

  22. Bucky 2
    Big Brother

    Okay, here's my understanding of the sequence of events.

    1) Someone puts a video on One Drive

    2) That person posts that video publicly.

    3) Automated software flags the public video as potentially illegal.

    4) People at Microsoft, and contracted by Microsoft, are employed to review such flagged videos and determine whether they really are illegal

    5) Some of these videos are at the absolute maximum of horribleness

    6) Microsoft has counselors on staff to help reviewers deal with what they have seen

    7) Reviewers are suing Microsoft for having seen what they have seen

    I'm not entirely sure how reviewing a publicly-posted video violates privacy concerns.

    I expect the case is all about Microsoft being liable for on-the-job injury. It's news because the injury is psychological instead of physical.

  23. David Roberts Silver badge
    Windows

    So many straw men, so little time

    So I'll build my own straw man from the few remaining materials.

    The report isn't particularly helpful, but let us assume:

    (1) They are specifically looking at public material searchable by Bing (their own search engine)

    AND

    (2) This material is hosted on OneDrive (their own file server)

    First thing, as it has been published this is not invasion of privacy. My straw man tells me that they are (in this context) only searching material that meets (1) and (2) above.

    Secondly, especially in the context of hosting companies and ISPs being under constant pressure to be the Internet Police and to be legally responsible for any and all content accessible over the Internet, they have a very big legal/political problem here.

    They have therefore taken the political (not moral) decision to mitigate the risk by specifically reviewing content where there is a risk that they could be targeted by Law Enforcement as both the host and publisher of particularly unsavoury and illegal material.

    My straw man (he's called Fred in case you are interested) has asked if you would rather see this "voluntary" level of auditing of content or see the "think of the children" brigade make it mandatory across all search engines, all hosting providers and all ISPs.

    Fred also mentioned that the law suit seems to be because others in Microsoft were viewing the same material but were given a much higher level of personal support (which suggests that they were deliberately discriminated against). The words "different budget" may lend this some credibility if you have corporate IT experience.

    Anyway, Fred has asked me to take him outside to see some precious little snowflakes before they melt.

  24. G7mzh

    If they're going to look

    They shouldn't be upset if they find what they've been loooking for. And some of those quotes (regarding content) I simply don't believe.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having worked on a childrens social internet site...

    One of the active requirements during my moderation was looking out for potential sexual predators. We had continued series of trainings from child protection agencies on what to look out for etc.

    It's a bit of a shock having to have this daily mentality of looking out for deviants amongst all the children. It got a bit much for me after a couple of months I can tell you, it's better to not think about these things than focus on them every day. Not a pleasant experience.

    Anon for obvs reasons.

  26. Old Handle
    Facepalm

    Paedo panic strikes again.

  27. Jake Maverick

    I do have sympathy for them in this case...but i been telling people for over twenty years that employees of these comapnies have access to all your private, personal communications....and that is illegal? it most certainly is a crime....I'm all for prosecuting child abusers and rapists...but point remains there is no rule of law, and these aren't even G-men who have these 'god like' powers....

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019