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The Internet Privacy

MySpace to Offer Spyware for Parents 282

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-of-the-children dept.
mrspin writes "Following continuing pressure from politicians (and parts of the media), MySpace is planning to offer parents the chance to download software which will monitor aspects of their children's activities on the social networking site. From a business point of view, the move appears to be a highly risky one. The young users of social networking sites are notorious for their lack of loyalty — and history suggests that a change like this could tempt many to abandon MySpace for the 'next cool thing'."
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MySpace to Offer Spyware for Parents

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  • by pembo13 (770295)
    for not liking being spied on. Or mass spying of other. Sure seems everyone else is gun ho for it.
  • by bhsx (458600) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:40AM (#17659268)
    My wife and I just demanded the myspace password for my step-daughter's account (she's 12). I kick myself for not paying any attention to that damned site, because of it's sheer obnoxiousness and ugly designs. If I had paid attention I'd have a better feel for all the "ins-and-outs" of the stupid site. I was glad to see this information brought up on the local news here; but like I said to my wife:
    The kids will just go someplace else.
    So who wants to fund the next "myspace killer" with me? :P
    • by magicchex (898936)
      Heh I'm so happy I didn't have parents like you when I was a wee lad myself.
    • by McFadden (809368)
      I kick myself for not paying any attention to that damned site, because of it's sheer obnoxiousness and ugly designs.

      In case she wants to become a web designer in the future? Nice to see that someone is so concerned about the impact poorly laid out sites can have on the young mind. I, for one, salute you sir.

      • by IflyRC (956454)
        Actually I think he's trying to prevent his step daughter from being one of these kids:

        The lawyers who filed the latest lawsuits said the plaintiffs include a 15-year-old girl from Texas who was lured to a meeting, drugged and assaulted in 2006 by an adult MySpace user, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Texas after pleading guilty to sexual assault. The others are a 15-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old from New York and two South Carolina sisters, ages 14 and 15. Last June, th
    • by v1 (525388)
      For one I don't know if I'd call it "spyware" though I suppose by definition that's what it is. Kid monitoring software has been around for years, I don't see this as a new development, and to bundle it with spyware is silly because this "kidsnoop"-ware is fundamentally different than spyware by virtue of why it exists. Kidsnoop exists to help parents keep tabs on their kids, where spyware seeks to advertise to you or scam you, to get your money. Perhaps using the same mechanisms, but entirely different
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:41AM (#17659284)
    Not your space anymore, son.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Children are innovative. Even if they don't move to different social networking sites, they'll find some way around this spyware.

    I'm sure the developers of this software spent much time during their youth trying to hide and protect their ill-obtained, yet sacred, copies of Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy. Just as they succeeded then, the youth of today will no doubt succeed in protecting the Web activities they hold sacred.

    • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:22AM (#17659522) Journal
      You assume Myspace users are smart enough to realie it's been installed.
    • by donaldm (919619) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:40AM (#17659964)
      At some stage (normally when the child gets into their teens) the parent has to start letting go and relaxing their supervision (this is called trust). It is very important for a parent to talk to their child and as the child gets older the dialog must become more meaningful so that greater trust when given is something a child can look forward to earning.

      Children are curious and will always try to see how far they can go before they overstep their boundaries. As parent it is up to you to define those boundaries with out being too restrictive although this can be a very difficult thing. Again this is were dialog comes in. It is normally a "cop out" on the parent's part to blindly agree with so called "well meaning" people who state that they are protecting their child's freedom because children are always going to do the wrong thing. Too many parents are willing to put their child's moral upbringing in the hands of people who probably have no idea of how to bring up a child themselves.

      I have mainly trivialised this but common sense must prevail between parent and child and a parent must be willing (even if it is embarrassing) to discuss everything especially sex with their child, otherwise the child will find out anyway and usually from their peers who don't know that much or who have distorted view.

      Hence if a parent does not know when asked a question by their child then the onus is on them to find out and come out with the correct answer that is not clouded by prejudice even though the parent may not like it because of their upbringing. If you as a parent can handle this you may actually learn something as well.

      I don't mean to say that bringing up a child is easy, it is not, but meaningful dialog can go along way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Paulrothrock (685079)

        At some stage (normally when the child gets into their teens) the parent has to start letting go and relaxing their supervision (this is called trust). It is very important for a parent to talk to their child and as the child gets older the dialog must become more meaningful so that greater trust when given is something a child can look forward to earning.

        That's very nice. I'm sure they'll have no problem monitoring their kids online activities when they lose the house and internet access because they ge

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RulerOf (975607)

      My Bulletin Space

      From | Date | Bulletin

      Jim | Today | FOOL YOUR PARENTS! MYSPACE SPYWARE REMOVER!


      Social networking at its best, would be the method to defeat this.

      Of course, chances are really good that every bulletin like that would just link to a porn site, a pyramid scheme, a myspace layout site, or, ironically enough, more spyware.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aplusjimages (939458)
      not only are kids innovative, so are sexual predators. how long until they find a way to use this spyware to monitor their favorite kiddies?
    • Over Christmas, my mother and grandmother bought a new computer and finally upgraded to DSL. My young cousin, who lives next door to them, has been coming over and using the computer, including MySpace. My mother, who watches a lot of CSI (now there's an alarmist show), asked me if we could put some kind of password or filter or something on the computer.

      My initial reaction was that technological limitations like passwords and filtering are an arms race -- and a race that my mother and grandmother are bo

  • HA HA HA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:44AM (#17659304) Journal
    I thought that MS was the only company that could so effortlessly shoot themselves in the feet. Parental monitoring should pretty much put an end to much of the MySpace userbase.

    Interestingly, if parents can do this with some software, is the government already doing it for them, but just not telling? I have to wonder about any company that will offer to 'spy' on you or your kids. I'm sort of interested in finding out how they will know that it is a parent of the account holder they are willing to spy on? Does the software have to be installed on the same computer as the child uses? That would only last about a week before its cracked.... expect YouTube videos on how to disable it within the week.
  • Parental Paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jorghis (1000092) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:45AM (#17659314)
    Just because your kids dont want you to know every single detail of their life doesnt mean that they are hooking up with 35 year olds. People take this business of monitoring their kids internet use too seriously. Would you tap your teenagers phone calls? If not whats the difference?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrdude (904978)
      "Would you tap your teenagers phone calls?" My parents sure would have. My sister has caught them looking through saved iChat logs (iChat can be set to save all of your conversations). I routinely use a who command in terminal if I have it open to see who's looking at what I'm doing.
    • by kfg (145172) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:03AM (#17659436)
      Would you tap your teenagers phone calls?

      I don't have to. Like any good parent I smothered my daughter in bubble wrap and then crated her. Nice and safe. Nothing's too good for my princess. She can come out when she's 21. If I think she's mature enough.

      Oh, wait, shit, she's 26 now.

      Hoooooooney? Where's the crowbar? And what's that smell?

      KFG
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        I'd follow a different approach. Only allow the child to see movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Akira etc. and limit the allowed games to a similar selection. Bedtime stories should be bad fanfics, especially ones with excessive sex and/or violence (the stranger the fetish the better). Once it gets older (around 14 or so), cue hard porn, tentacle hentai and flash games found on 4chan.

        That should ensure the child is so dysfunctional no predator will ever want to get close to it. It should also ensure tha
        • Reminds me of the quote: "I want to save the world for my children, but not my children's children. Because I don't think children should be having sex."
    • by glwtta (532858) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:10AM (#17659480) Homepage
      Would you tap your teenagers phone calls? If not whats the difference?

      Most parents can safely assume their kids are only talking to people they personally know? Not really advocating one side or the other here, just saying - it's a real difference; there are others, too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pipatron (966506)
        A vast majority of the sexual crimes against children are from people they know.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by snarkth (1002832)
      Trust.
    • by Firehed (942385)
      Well, I doubt most teenagers would be paying the long-distance bill that would reveal any unusual activity. Myspace doesn't really have that same way of charging you (or your parent) more for talking to more people, nor does it automatically send out a list of people contacted at the end of the month.

      I'm no parent, but I think I could still recognize some strange phone activity without tapping the thing. I won't go near Myspace with a ten-foot pole, but I could see parents appreciating, at the least, some
    • by Gryffin (86893)

      Just because your kids dont want you to know every single detail of their life doesnt mean that they are hooking up with 35 year olds.

      Well, see that's exactly why parents get paranoid: their kids refuse to divulge even scant details of their personal lives to their parents, but cheerfully share their most intimate secrets with complete strangers, including said 35 year olds, on a public site for all the world to see.

      Would you tap your teenagers phone calls? If not whats the difference?

      The difference is,

    • by bilbravo (763359)
      I think there is a fine line, but all (read: most) of the people screaming about the kids' rights online are the same ones who back up and say that Jack Thompson/the government shouldn't ban violent video games; it's the parents responsibility. Well, I agree... and I applaud any parent who would want to take advantage of some sort of "spying" tool to see what there kids are up to... albeit, maybe not as invasive as this tool might be--but I admit I didn't look to see what the tool does. However, keeping t
  • by sporkme (983186) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:45AM (#17659316) Homepage
    NFTFA:
    An source which requested to remain anonymous stated that the new feature was to be entitled Myspace DeathKnell and stated that the board of directors was optimistic about the future of the social networking giant. "The future is bright. Much like the Titanic, this ship is unsinkable. The difference is that there is not a single iceberg in sight," stated another unnamed source.

    With any luck, this will be the third-to-last /. article about MySpace.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      With any luck, this will be the third-to-last /. article about MySpace.

      Why would that be a good thing? I love MySpace - having one place for so many people that I don't want to have any interaction with is great! All I have to remember is: "Don't go to fucking MySpace."
  • Armageddon (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:52AM (#17659360)
    My GOD, it's DOOMSDAY. Myspace users will begin to leave myspace and begin to infect the rest of the internet. KILL ME NOW!
  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:55AM (#17659384)
    Even if this move doesn't drive away the kids, if nogoodniks are able to pretend to be parents and monitor the activities of other peoples' kids, this is going to be a nightmare.

    Perhaps I am dull witted tonight, but I can't imagine how they can make this spyware foolproof.

    • Even if this move doesn't drive away the kids, if nogoodniks are able to pretend to be parents and monitor the activities of other peoples' kids, this is going to be a nightmare.

      Perhaps I am dull witted tonight, but I can't imagine how they can make this spyware foolproof.

      My first thought was "Why the hell do parents need to download something to accomplish this? MySpace already knows what the kids are doing - they can just tell the parents."

      Your post exposed why it's spyware and not just a web service off

  • by zokrath (593920) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:58AM (#17659402)
    According to the article, the software only shows what name, age, and location the user is claiming. It does not provide any other information.

    This is a well thought-out solution, as it provides the important information while still providing privacy to the user.

    Unfortunately, for many teens any information is too much to share, and many parents think that any privacy is too much to allow.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hanners1979 (959741)
      If you don't know the name, age or location of your own child, then you have more important things to worry about that their MySpace account! ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mikek3332002 (912228)
      IT isn't open source, so how do you know whether the software does traditional spyware activies as well.
  • by PoitNarf (160194) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:58AM (#17659404)
    Better software!
    • by glwtta (532858) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:07AM (#17659450) Homepage
      So, that's a nice knee-jerk reaction there, but better parenting potentially involve having some idea of what your kid is up to with these things, no?
      • by dk.r*nger (460754) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @07:21AM (#17661556)
        You're right!
        I've invented a perfect device for this purpose:
        The KitchenTable(tm) (patent pending)

        You install this device in a commons area of your home, and then one day you sit your kid down at the table and ass him or her, "OK, (name), I would never spy on you, but I keep hearing so much about MySpace and predators. Would you please walk me through the site and show me what it's all about? That would really make me more comfortable." (conversation NOT included).
        This will in most cases cause the child to agree, and show the parent around the site (Warning: child/parent bonding may occur). If the tactic fails, the KitchenTable (tm) may be returned for a full refund, reddemable towards the purchase of The Dungeon (tm).
    • Better Software [stickyminds.com] magazine? [grin]
  • Too Technical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elwin_windleaf (643442) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:00AM (#17659426) Homepage

    Okay, let's disregard whether parents would/should need a piece of software to help them watch their children.

    More importantly, how are these parents going to install and use this software? I would say that the majority children are more tech-savvy than their parents, and aren't likely to willingly help their parents peer into their private life.

    So, how are parents going to install and configure a piece of software that will require user names and other information they might need to ask their children for anyways? What's to stop a child from setting up a dummy account to render the software useless?

    • by brassman (112558)
      "Timmy? TIMMY!"

      "Yeah, Pops?"

      "I need you to install this myspace parental monitor on the PC."

      "Oh? Yeah, sure thing Pops."
  • Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by delirium of disorder (701392) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:02AM (#17659434) Homepage Journal
    Parents who install the monitoring software on their home computers would be able to find out what name, age and location their children are using to represent themselves on MySpace. The software doesn't enable parents to read their child's e-mail or see the child's profile page

    So it tells the parents the exact same information they would get by searching for their kids name, email, or username on myspace. Even the private/hidden profiles that I've seen still show username, age and location. How is downloading some proprietary software to get publicly available information useful?
    • You can only search for your kid's name, email or username if they are actually using their real name, or an email or username you know. What this does is let you search for ANYONE LOGGING ON FROM YOUR COMPUTER. See the difference? Now parents can tell if their children are posting fake profiles.
  • Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thief_inc (466143)
    I say this as a parent. If US citizens do not have a right to privacy from corporations, why should a 13 year olds have a right to privacy from their parents?
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Because one can't get grounded by a corporation? And they can't cut off ones allowance (although they can do that to ones parents).
  • In a related story, when polled, several industry experts suggested that this new myspace software was not expected to be an invasion of privacy at all. Asked how software that was specifically intended to track the actions of another individual could be anything other than invasive, the experts responded, "Oh, yes that's a good point. It's pretty simple really: we are basing our analysis on software that myspace has produced in the past, like the web site, and based on this analysis, we've concluded tha

  • Wow, great move, MySpace. Now, how about taking all that energy and channeling it into, um, I don't know, preventing Tom's profile from being hacked?
  • $sys$myspace.log

    $sys$myspclgr.exe
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:26AM (#17659558)
    but kids will be thrilled since they now can monitor their parents' behaviour on myspace.
  • Responsible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:30AM (#17659588)
    Most people's attitude about things like this change drastically after they actually have kids of their own to be responsible for.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RvLeshrac (67653)
      Or perhaps the people commenting on what a stupid idea this is actually... you know... do some parenting?

      I know plenty of people who see no reason to monitor their children. If you can't trust your kids, perhaps it is time to take another look at how you've raised them.
      • by Gryle (933382)
        To borrow a phrase, trust but verify.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gillbates (106458)

        I wasn't a *bad* kid, but that doesn't my parents had reason to trust me completely. I pushed the limits, and I suppose my children will do the same. In fact, I've got a two year old who is doing that right now. Reason does not apply to the mind of a child, unfortunately.

        Kids push the limits because they haven't yet learned that limits exist. It's kind of like running into the street without looking. You and I can figure out that just because you do it once and didn't get hurt doesn't mean it's safe

  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:30AM (#17659596)
    As parents, the only thing you can do is try to be as trustworthy as possible. If you have reasonable success, your children may actually heed your warnings or at least realize when they are in trouble anc come to you for advice. You cannot get more. Monitoring, threats, harsh limits, etc... will just cause your children to leave home when they can and think bach of you as cretins (and rightfully so!).

    An essential component of this is to trust your children. Sure, they will do stupid things, but hey, they are children and still learning. And if they know they can talk to you they may actually come to ask for advice. Don't bbe shocked or appalled, just try to do the best you can. And if you don't know, say so. And if you are uncomfotable with some of your childrens choices, tell them that, but also let them make their choices.

    Eventually it boild down to respect. Respect your children. If you do that, then there is no way in hell that you can spy on them, which in my and very likely in your children's eyes is the ultimate sugn of disrespect.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:58AM (#17659754)
    history suggests that a change like this could tempt many to abandon MySpace for the 'next cool thing'

    And history also suggests that parents are quick to file lawsuits, juries are quick to side with the parents, and legislators are quick to pass new restrictive laws. Those trump what kids might do.

    Myspace already gets held accountable for a very high degree of parental stupidity. They are merely trying to cover their own asses.
  • This is not spyware, by definition spyware has to collect information without the informed consent of the user.
    This software has to be installed by the owner of the computer and since it is for use against minors the parents, who would also be installing it, provide the legal informed consent for the minor.
    If this is spyware so is my anti-virus and ad blocking software.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:40AM (#17659966) Journal

    Thus, I have no sympathy for kids who resent being spied on by their parents... it's their parent's property, they have every right to know every detail of how it is used. If they don't like their parents spying on them on the parents' computer then they should just not use their parents' computer... and find alternative methods of keeping in touch with their buddies that the parents won't be able to monitor because it's outside their jurisdiction.

    And if parents don't like that kids will inevitably find such methods, tough. They should have thought of that before they had kids in the first place if they can't deal with the fact that their kid might be more ingenious than they are. Ideally, you teach them the whole time they are young how to make smart choices so that by the time they are making their own possibly life-altering decisions they will do the right thing... then spying on your kids would just be superfluous.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Have you ever heard the saying 'The most dangerous man is the one who has nothing to lose'? Do you really suggest that parents start making sure their children have nothing? When people have no property, they do not respect the ownership of property.
    • Thus, I have no sympathy for kids who resent being spied on by their parents... it's their parent's property, they have every right to know every detail of how it is used.

      That's crap. Kids have a right to privacy, morally if not legally. It isn't absolute, but the idea that you have a right to know every detail of your kid's life is monstrous. If that's what you want, go get a dog.

  • How many people commenting here are actually parents...?

    Just asking.

  • This is the perfect setup for a kids/parents technology arms race. First, convince alarmed parents that they need to pay for some monitoring of their child's online behavior. Then sell a monitor blocking package to the children. A key feature of the latter has got to be that you can use the saved credit card credentials from the parents puchase. Mass user flight in 3......2.......1......
  • From TFA:

    Parents who install the monitoring software on their home computers would be able to find out what name, age and location their children are using to represent themselves on MySpace. The software doesn't enable parents to read their child's e-mail or see the child's profile page and children would be alerted that their information was being shared.

    So it's overt, and it's very limited in scope. If that scope doesn't grow, I think this is pretty positive. It provides a compromise between total surveillance and no supervision whatsoever.

  • I am a bad parent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erica_ann (910043)
    I guess we are just bad parents. Although we had talked to our son till we were blue in the face about not posting personal information, our preteen son had an account on MySpace - well actually a couple - that I found through a search. The clincher was when started getting phone calls from girls from all over and started making up lies of how they got his number.

    Needless to say, his computer is not behind a squid proxy and is locked down to not going to any internet sites unless we approve and add them for
  • http://www.wireshark.org/ [wireshark.org]
    http://tldp.org/HOWTO/TransparentProxy.html [tldp.org]

    'nuff said.

    When my kid figures out how to properly encrypt his traffic, then I figure he's mature enough to take proper precautions when dealing with strangers (and you folks on the 'net are stranger than most).

    Still, I find it deeply troubling how I find that I'm understanding right-wing leanings more and more after being a parent. But then again, I'm almost over 30, so I guess I'm allowed to "mature" into a lying conniving misleading fig
  • I'm not sure this is a good thing. According to Bowlby and Ainsworth's attachment theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory), excessive intrusive parenting will actually make the child withdrawn and non-responsive. To be sure, protecting children online is important, but there's a point where it can actually harm them, by undermining the "secure base" of the right amount of nurturing and attention in a parent-child relationship. Some data suggested the total amount of time this happens in th

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