[HuffingtonPost] Google Aims To Patent Policy Violation Checker, Potentially Revolutionizing Email Snooping

We've all come to rely on spell-checkers that correct misspellings as we type. Now, Google has filed a patent for a tool that seems like an evil-checker: a software system that could prevent people from writing out, in electronic correspondence and documents, phrases that run afoul of policies or laws. [...]

It also seems reasonable to venture that the database could initially be populated by an authoritarian regime's Internet censors. And with the ability to integrate the software on “any type of processing device,” from a smartphone to a television, oppressive governments could be empowered to see anything their citizens write -- in Word documents, in emails, in drafts of blog posts, in digital journals -- and to view it before someone hits “send.”

While Google suggests this technology could come in handy for companies, its broad definition of “problematic phrases” raises the question of how else it might be used and what correspondence could be monitored. Could Google flag pedophiles for the police? Could it thwart a politician’s extramarital affair, or alert a spouse to his wife’s indiscretions? Could it stop white supremacists or religious extremists from emailing with each other? And if the software could do those things, should it? [...]