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UT Dallas Professor Captures the Mobile Interactions of 175 Texas Teens 146

Posted by timothy
from the why-would-you-think-that-was-creepy? dept.
nonprofiteer writes "A University of Texas-Dallas developmental psychology professor has used a $3.4 million NIH grant to purchase Blackberries for 175 Texas teens, capturing every text message, email, photo, and IM they've sent over the past 4 years.Half a million new messages pour into the database every month. The researchers don't 'directly ask' the teens about privacy issues because they don't want to remind them they're being monitored. So many legal and ethical issues here. I can't believe this is IRB-approved. Teens sending nude photos alone could make that database legally toxic. And then there's the ethical issue of monitoring those who have not consented to be part of the study, but are friends with those who have. When a friend texted one participant about selling drugs, he responded, 'Hey, be careful, the BlackBerry people are watching, but don't worry, they won't tell anyone.'" This sounds like an American version of the "Seven Up" series.
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UT Dallas Professor Captures the Mobile Interactions of 175 Texas Teens

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  • by PastBlast (2617971) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:23PM (#39736557)
    How about a $3.4M grant researching how universities and colleges abuse the privacy of teens and students?
  • by DanTheStone (1212500) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:40PM (#39736831)
    Abuse how? They know what they're getting into. They received the phones with the express condition of the monitoring. And it requires the parents' consent as well as the children's.
  • by Shooter6947 (148693) <jbarnes007@c3p[ ... t ['o.b' in gap]> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:46PM (#39736935) Homepage

    I guess that I don't understand people's privacy objections here. Those people who got free BlackBerries are well aware of the monitoring. Legally, either party may record a conversation and save it and provide it to whomever they want (Though this varies by state). It's the responsibility of the BlackBerry owner to make sure that their friends know the situation -- and based on the last drug-text, they do.

    The bigger question that should be in a /. poll soon, is: "I would give a researcher all of your phone data, text, and other information, in exchange for a free:

    (1) dumb phone
    (2) BlackBerry
    (3) iPhone
    (4) RAZR smart phone
    (5) CowboyNeal "

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:50PM (#39736971)

    And then there's the ethical issue of monitoring those who have not consented to be part of the study, but are friends with those who have.

    That's the same issue that most people already have with texts and emails.

    If I text you or email you something, I have no idea if you're going to download that message unto your work cell phone, or your work laptop, and besides even if you do own your own cell phone and your own account, I have no guarantee that you won't forward my texts or my emails to others anyway.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:56PM (#39737087)

    Or a $3.4 million grant to study how federal grant money is wasted on useless studies.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:01PM (#39737145)

    Do you spend much time around teens? Although it has added a little, it has replaced a lot. In terms of total time communicating compared to ten years ago, my personal experience is that teens spend far fewer minutes per day talking face to face, even if the overall time spent communicating is greater. The logical conclusion is that the facetime has been replaced moreso than added to.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:15PM (#39737359)
    the 4+ people who work on the project aren't the ones who own the data, the university is.

    that's the issue with privacy... we trust the people who we willingly give our privacy up to, but it is the people who come after them that we have to worry about.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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