Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications The Internet Your Rights Online

Parental Control Software Datamines Kids' Online Conversations 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-used-to-it-kids dept.
An AP report reveals that web-monitoring software from Sentry and FamilySafe, both developed by EchoMetrix Inc., is harvesting data from kids' online chats, trying to determine their opinions on games, movies, and music. The data is then sold to other companies for advertising purposes. "In June, EchoMetrix unveiled a separate data-mining service called Pulse that taps into the data gathered by Sentry software to give businesses a glimpse of youth chatter online. While other services read publicly available teen chatter, Pulse also can read private chats. It gathers information from instant messages, blogs, social networking sites, forums and chat rooms. ... Parents who don't want the company to share their child's information to businesses can check a box to opt out. But that option can be found only by visiting the company's Web site, accessible through a control panel that appears after the program has been installed. It was not in the agreement contained in the Sentry Total Home Protection program The Associated Press downloaded and installed Friday."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Parental Control Software Datamines Kids' Online Conversations

Comments Filter:
  • Sounds Illegal to me (Score:5, Informative)

    by Concern (819622) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:32AM (#29340059) Journal

    In the US, children have special privacy protections afforded by law. It involves things like "opt-in" and parental consent.

    http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm [coppa.org]

    IANAL, but I have worked on a number of projects which had to comply. Based on what is said here, this seems in flagrant violation. Somebody call the cops.

  • by gsslay (807818) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:34AM (#29340081)

    Early results indicate that kids are pre-occupied with gayness (in an unfocussed and confused way), wedgies, noogies and the smell of poo.

    Further analysis reveals that Disney actors are hot, teachers aren't and swimming pools are responsible for most diseases.

    Any company data-mining this further are welcome to try. There are great truths to be found within, I'm sure.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:59AM (#29340303) Homepage

    In the US, children have special privacy protections afforded by law. It involves things like "opt-in" and parental consent.

    http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm [coppa.org]

    IANAL, but I have worked on a number of projects which had to comply. Based on what is said here, this seems in flagrant violation. Somebody call the cops.

    Nope.

    "The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and Rule apply to individually identifiable information about a child"

    As long as they're only data mining the information on what the kids are interested in, and not saving which child was interested in what, they're apparently not violating the COPPA law.

    Which is not to say that what they're doing is right, of course.

  • Re:EU policy (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:00PM (#29340961)

    I'm not so sure. If the data is not personally identifiable, I don't think it violates the European Union Privacy Directive.

    Note that the information is data-mined for advertising information (finding out what kids are interested in), not for ad targetting (send an ad for "High School Musical IV" to kids talking about "Guitar Hero").

    But companies do receive snippets of actual chats. How do they ensure that doesn't contain anything that is personally identifiable?

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:40PM (#29341451) Homepage Journal

    I remember, long ago when my kids were little, experimenting with some of those baby sitter softwares. None delivered a reasonable balance between access and protection. The kid said he couldn't find anything on some subject, can't remember now what it was. Or, maybe more accurately, he complained that he was finding limited information. Anyway, I did a search, and got something like a gazillion to the gazillionth power hits. The kid looks over my shoulder, and comments that HIS internet found nothing like that. So, I went to his computer, did the same search, and came up with a couple dozen lame hits.

    Out went the baby sitter software.

    His little project was completed, it went to school, got graded, and we were so proud of our little guy. *scratches head* Whatever did we do with all those projects? Maybe I can sell his nuclear bomb excavator to a coal company now that the economy sucks so bad. Probably buy groceries for a couple months.......

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

Working...