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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 Mr2cents (323101) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:24PM (#39736571)

    Also, with the help of a calculator, I got 98 messages per day per teen. That's like what I send in a busy year.

  • by KarrdeSW (996917) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:37PM (#39736791)

    Well they're on sprint... So about $70/month for unlimited text and data = 840 per year.

    Over the last four years that's $3,360 per teen.

    For 175 Teens that's $588,000.

    Then you have the monitoring software, the backend database. Half a million messages per month? Over four years that's 24,000,000 messages in an uknown number of tables. You might want to pay a person to make sure that thing stays running and do daily backups to make sure there are no gaps in your data if stuff breaks.

    Then you have the army of grad students who are probably funded through that grant who are either sifting through the data themselves, or coding up machine learning applications to draw conclusions from it.

    And this research project also existed before they started using blackberries (since 2003). So this $3.4 million seems to have gone a long way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:52PM (#39737013)

    Then why would the professor be in trouble because some kids take pictures of themselves ?

  • by networkBoy (774728) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:52PM (#39737023) Homepage Journal

    In which case I see no issue.
    I see it in the same light as my typing this reply on my work provided notebook over my work provided network connection on my lunch break. My employer is entitled to:
    * look at my browser cache
    * look at the proxy logs
    * instruct the proxy to cache all content to/from my machine on the net
    etc.

    These phones are no different. The teens were employed by the study, payment was in the form of an unlimited phone for the duration of employment. The only difference in this case is the whole reason for employment in this case was to allow snooping, as opposed to my employment being to surf the web and look for security related stuff, then apply what I see/learn to our latest products as an attack, and document my success/failure with said attacks.
    -nB

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