If you thought your email was private, think again. Gmail is an email service provided by Google that currently has more than 425 million users. Recently, Google was sued for allegedly violating wiretap laws by opening and reading the emails sent by non-Gmail users. Why would Google want to read your emails? Simple: for money. By scanning the words in an email, Google can determine what to advertise to its Gmail users. (For example, did your friend just have a baby? Google may show you ads for baby shower gifts.) People who sign up for Gmail must accept Google’s terms and conditions, which include allowing Google to scan their emails. The implications of this are troubling to the many people who value their privacy. They are disturbed by the idea that an email service would try to profit from reading their most private correspondence. Unfortunately, privacy isn’t all that’s at stake in this issue: using Gmail (or any other email provider that scans emails) can lead to criminal charges. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Google obtained and gave officials evidence of possession of child pornography after a scan of one man’s emails. The Times reports, “Google can detect child pornography with a widely used digital fingerprinting system—called “hashing”—that allows companies and law enforcement to detect known child pornography in electronic services like Gmail.” Every image of child sexual abuse is given a unique “digital fingerprint,” which allows Google to identify those images. Under federal law, people and companies are required to report any evidence of child exploitation that they find. Google sent a tip to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which then forwarded the information to the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. This set in motion the case against the man in question, John Henry Skillern. He was soon arrested and charged with promotion and possession of child pornography—a serious offense that could result in harsh punishment, including years in prison, hefty fines, and a requirement to register as a sex offender. Google has tried to reassure the public by saying that it does not monitor emails for other illegal activities, such as burglary. However, Gmail users—and those who send emails to others who use Gmail—should be very aware of the potential for abuse by Google. After all, what’s to stop Google from tipping the police on other illegal activities? Or even reporting political dissidents? It’s a slippery slope that should have people worried about their privacy and other rights.