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Microsoft The Internet Your Rights Online

MSN Cuts Unmonitored Chatrooms Around the Globe 400

letxa2000 writes "According to MSNBC, Microsoft will be shutting down its unmonitored chat services in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and much of Latin America on October 14th--the day before MSN Messenger will lock out many 3rd party clients. Interestingly, the European manager of MSN is quoted as saying 'This is a decision based upon consumer experiences, child protection and our strategic investment to build up MSN Messenger.' It's starting to become clear that Microsoft is starting up the IM wars again and that the 3rd-party lockout indeed isn't so much about security as it is about marketshare."
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MSN Cuts Unmonitored Chatrooms Around the Globe

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  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:42AM (#7041822) Homepage
    Note that this only affects public chatrooms and not the MSN Messenger service - I say this now not because it's not obvious to those who read the article, but that because this is slashdot and people won't :)
  • by Kevin_ap ( 597233 ) <hitman&gmx,co,uk> on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:42AM (#7041824)
    All the Kids who used to chat on msn will now find "cooler" chat rooms (perhaps IRC) and they might start trying out other non Microsoft products...
    • by Chris_Jefferson ( 581445 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:54AM (#7041875) Homepage
      Nooo!! For a while now, IRC has been one of the few places where I could (mostly) avoid

      "wher cn i get quake warez?"

      "u r a faggot!"

      "This person used their CD-ROM drive as a cup holder LOLOL!!!111"

      I don't want them all coming back :(

      • You could avoid this on IRC? That's the kind of attitudes I came across there and forced me to end a serious 5 year IRC habit.
        I've not touched IRC in 3 years now and I don't miss its stupidity one bit. aMSN and yahoo IM's now provide my lameness filter to the chat world - I much prefer it that way.
    • So it can go back to the old-school days of EFNET?

      D00000D! Wassssup!! :-P~

      RU single???

      B0st0n R0X0r5!!

      ROFLLMAOPIMP!

      Ah well. I was planning on moving to DALNET anyway...
    • no, this is a bad thing for that very reason (the irc thing). All the other providers will follow suit, because naive parents will think that the service they are using doesn't care about their kids. their kids will then go and find somewhere else to hang out, that will be completely unmoderated, and is likely to get them into worse situations... this is all because microsoft doesn't want to risk it's repuation and stump up some cash for proper policing of safe chatrooms.
  • IRC is next (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pork_spies ( 659663 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:42AM (#7041825)
    There is a real moral panic underway in the UK about this now - and the attack is on all unmoderated "chat" - so even the development channel you use is at threat.
    • Re:IRC is next (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, and it mainly stems from the recent paedophile panics. Huge overreactions and all that. Reminds me of the Brass Eye Paedophile Special whenever I see some rubbish like this.
      • Yes, with Carol Vorderman on the Goverment's side i wouldn't be suprised if they outlawed chatrooms and irc servers in the UK, it will be a dark day when this happens...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:59AM (#7041894)
      Can't have people talking to each other now can we? Next for UK data retention, every citizen to be required to wear a microphone so that all verbal communication can be logged with GCHQ, sign language to be criminalised. Keep paying your taxes because it's all for the public good.
    • Re:IRC is next (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Oddly_Drac ( 625066 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @06:29AM (#7042206)
      "There is a real moral panic underway in the UK about this now"

      Oh, do give over.

      For one thing the UK *is not* the tabloids.

      They try to foster a particular opinion as being national whether it is or not, and the Sun recently dropped the ball bigtime with their 'Bruno Bonkers' headline that they had to reprint because it was insensitive trash.

      The whole deal with 'peadophiles' in the UK is that we don't have the association with 'Terrorism' that the US has. We've had terrorism for so long that it doesn't affect us. Kiddy Fiddlers, on the other hand, are this scary lurking menace that haunt the internet, street corners and *live in your town*.

      The Brass Eye Peadophile special [cream.org] nailed this concept [bbc.co.uk] completely, and the flak that surrounded it was indicative of the PR value [guardian.co.uk] of this kind of fear.

      The British public, generally speaking, have a bit more cynicism [spiked-online.com].

  • I don't see a problem with this. MSN (Messenger) costs lots to run. They want to increase their market share so to get more value for money - and if they were in a monopoly position in the IM market this would bea very bad thing. However, they're not the number one player - they are just trying to be. If they think that this will help them achieve that, then that's their perogative.

    Personally, I think this is a good thing. It will help drive torward a interoperable standard for IM - not playing catchup wi

    • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:11AM (#7041941) Homepage Journal
      Nah, you're missing the strategy: (1) Give away IM; (2) Get everyone in the world to live/breath/eat/sleep your IM service, like Crack; (3) monetize it.

      By and large the sheep will fork out their credit cards to keep the crack coming. Monetizing MSN is MS's wet dream.

      They'll eventually pull it off.
  • ...only evil comes out of it. Why should people talk about other things than bondage, rape and casual sex? Beats me.
  • Make more money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TuataraShoes ( 600303 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:43AM (#7041831)
    Its obvious that Microsoft make decisions for no other reason than to make more money. The subscription chat services make more money than unsubscribed.

    The real reason for this is that the lawyers are screaming to cut the unmonitored service before they get sued.

    Nevertheless, that kind of chat is among the most banal and crappy of all internet applications. If every provider stopped supporting it, it would be no great loss.

    • Re:Make more money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bdowne01 ( 30824 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @06:43AM (#7042267) Homepage Journal
      Its obvious that Microsoft make decisions for no other reason than to make more money. The subscription chat services make more money than unsubscribed.

      Companies exist to make money. They don't do it for the fun of it all.

      As much as I despise Microsoft because of their business practices, I can't really blame them for attempting to make money off one of their products. That's the problem with companies, they're always out for a buck.

      As long as there's free alternatives [jabber.org], let them go ahead and charge what they want. The informed will begin to use free software more frequently because of it; and the uninformed might just discover it for the first time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:45AM (#7041843)
    "It's starting to become clear that Microsoft is starting up the IM wars again and that the 3rd-party lockout indeed isn't so much about security as it is about marketshare."

    Your questioning of microsofts motives clearly indicates that you have something to hide. Are you a paedophile?

    We have found a nonce! may we burn him?
  • Well there is a 3rd party which is open and works. Its called "Jabber". Now of course most people here know this but along with the Yahoo also shutting people out prehaps its time to move

    Rus
  • by surstrmming ( 674864 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:45AM (#7041845) Homepage
    Microsoft has prepped the mainstream media that this is all about saving children from pedophile predators.

    Child abuse experts were interviewed saying this actually increases the risk to children, because kids have emotional ties to their online chat friends. Now they might give mobile phone numbers and other personal data to their online friends so that they can stay in touch... and if that friend is a pedophile, he is that much closer to meeting the child.

    The child abuse expert urged parents to talk to their kids about this, so the child can deal with this close down of chat rooms in a better way.
    • by moderators_are_w*nke ( 571920 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:58AM (#7041892) Journal
      This is, of course, complete rubbish. Its all about finding a way to ditch a free service that is costing them money and replace it with one they can charge for. This is sensible business practice from a money point of view, but the business model is more akin to drug pushing than online services.
      • Exactly.

        I was very disappointed with Radio 4 this morning covering this but not thinking to discuss that this means MS are stopping a free service, getting good publicity for themselves for free and instantly bashing all their competitors by implication. Oh, and getting referred to as a 'leading internet provider' in the UK where MSN don't operate.

        This is very nasty marketing from MS, definitely increases the risk to children and should have got them shouted at loudly.
    • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <tim,almond&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:50AM (#7042075) Homepage
      Is there an equivalent of Godwin's Law [astrian.net] for people using the issue of child safety as a means to do other things?

      Whenever I see stories of people doing things "to protect children", I often look for alternative motives. I think press departments of governments/corporations use this as a way of ceasing debate, but they know that people are too afraid to oppose the thing done because they don't want to be seen as against protecting children.

      HM Government wants new snooping powers on email - undoubtedly as the legislation gets closer, the "protecting children" trump card will be played.

      Like the experts say, What MS are doing will not protect children. They will find alternative chat rooms, possibly in juristictions outside the UK, with absolutely NO regulation or searches by police being available.

      In this case, it looks like one of the following is the real story:-

      MS are scared of getting sued

      MS are looking to get people using messenger to increase their stranglehold.

      MS are looking to publicise MSN as a service, encouraging non-savvy parents to believe that signing up to MSN means their kids won't use chatrooms.

      MS want some publicity to help spin the image of them being a good company with strong, secure software who care about their users after the virus disaster.

      If MS really cared about children, they'd host chatrooms and put some of their massive resources into moderating them.

      Of course, the mainstream media are too thick to deal with the real issues in this - protecting children through education of parents and children in using the internet.

      • Since this is all about the pedophiles which I guess means MS is saying they are using MS products, why is MS waiting 30+ days? Don't they care enough about the children to be a stop to this right now? How many more children are going to be hurt because MS does not stop this right as they have identified that it was a problem?
      • "protecting children"

        Even if we do the right thing for protecting our chilren (permanently locking them into a padded basement, obviously), we have this critical dilemma:

        1) No sunlight can lead to soft bones, nutrient deficiency, and obvious harm.
        2) Sunlight can lead to skin cancer, "leather face" (for the teen beach bunnies out there), and obvious harm.

        Damn.

        Okay, the right way to protect the children, then, is to have no children. Problem solved.

        What, even this isn't satisfactory? What do you mean
  • by beady ( 710116 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:46AM (#7041846)
    Surely Microsoft realise that by doign this, they are just going to shift the children and unsavoury types to using less servers, therefore making it easier for the nastys to go after the children as there are less places to focus on...
    Well done to Microsoft making the world think its doing children a favour, rather than making the peadophiles lot easier
  • It's starting to become clear that Microsoft is starting up the IM wars again and that the 3rd-party lockout indeed isn't so much about security as it is about marketshare.

    Starting? Even without the anti-MS bias, you have to admit that altruism doesn't exist among companies. No air==dead people. Money is air to a company.

    If MSN figures they can get more air this way, they will.

    Duh.

    MS only was nice so long as they got marketshare away from AIM. From this POV, it seems Jabber [jabber.com] really needs to be

  • by Talthane ( 699885 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:46AM (#7041848)

    My immediate reaction is that this will simply drive chatroom-using children to less-monitored, less well-policed chatrooms where they can carry on gossiping - especially if they don't have access to IM clients. Only nobody will be watching those chatrooms.

    As much as I loathe some of Microsoft's practices, I would have preferred an organisation like them to be monitoring (young) children's chatrooms than SmallISP.com(tm). Purely from a resources standpoint, Microsoft was one of the best-equipped organisations to watch for paedophiles and other slime.

  • BBC discussion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@phr o g gy.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:46AM (#7041849) Homepage
    I just heard a discussion about this on the BBC's Radio Five Live. One concern they raised: children will not stop chatting online, but will simply switch to other chat services which are even less safe than MSN's. Not only that, but with the announcement of the impending closure, there will be a scramble to exchange contact information before the deadline, which may include phone numbers or other personal information (precisely the thing we don't want children to do).

    Another point they made: when talking to your children about the dangers of talking to strangers online (or anything else, really) it's very important to explain WHY it's dangerous, and make sure they understand exactly what the dangers are and how to avoid them. Children tend to rebel against authority, especially when they can't see good reasons for the rules parents set for them.
    • Re:BBC discussion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yelmalio ( 463235 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:06AM (#7041921)
      I just heard a discussion about this on the BBC's Radio Five Live. One concern they raised: children will not stop chatting online, but will simply switch to other chat services which are even less safe than MSN's.

      Speaking as a parent of 3 girls I think MS are between a rock and a hard place with this. There have been several high profile cases of underage people being lured into sex through chatrooms. If MS continue the service they undoubtedly will get flack for helping aid Paedophiles. No sooner was this announced they where closing the service they get accused of censorship. There have been calls in the UK to legislate that chat serverice providers 'properly monitor' users. Can't have it both ways and it's not up to MS to monitor each and every conversation. That would be a greater breach of privacy.

      I've seen several comments here and here [bbc.co.uk] that this will allow people to ween off MS. It's not about MS crapware, censorship or privacy, it's about kids being abused by adults.

      What is needed here is an education programme to teach parents, not children, as to the dangers. Most parents are clueless about the Net as a whole.

      • If MS continue the service they undoubtedly will get flack for helping aid Paedophiles.

        What I find totally scandaluse about the "to protect the children" claim. is that nobody seems to want to know what new features are in the new service, and how Microsoft plans to use them to protect the children in ways that can not be done today..

        To me it just sounds like marketing blah blah to cover up the real Classical MS motive "To crush the competition" ..

      • Re:BBC discussion (Score:4, Insightful)

        by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:32AM (#7042017) Homepage Journal
        It's not about MS crapware, censorship or privacy, it's about kids being abused by adults.

        It is about MS Crapware. According to the article MS said:

        "This is a decision based upon consumer experiences, child protection and our strategic investment to build up MSN Messenger,"

        and:

        Users in the affected regions will still be able to chat online but must do so through Microsoft Messenger, the company's instant messaging product.

        and:

        In the United States, Canada and Japan, Microsoft will introduce an unsupervised chat service solely for subscribers

        It is not about protecting children, it is about getting people to use MS Messenger and subscribe to MSN. Most users will not know about competing services. They will recieve a message from MS telling them that the service they have been using is being closed down, and here is how to subscribe to the new secure replacement from MSN. What will the average user do?

  • I read it was because of spammers and kiddie pr0n..

    I can only hope they shut down Hotmail next, though I feel it is more the S&M version of mail for people that enjoy getting spam in their mailbox.
  • I'm not suprised this hasn't come quicker. Clearly microsoft can't afford (well, they don't want) to pay for moderation of all their MSN chatrooms. However you can imagine the uproar if the headline "Pedophile kills child after grooming in MSN chatroom" appear in papers. This isn't going to help, as everyone will simply move to another chatroom site but I can see my microsoft is doing it.
  • I don't blame them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mo^ ( 150717 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:50AM (#7041856)
    I think this is a very understandable position to take. Microsoft get lumbered with enough bad press as it is. All it takes is for one 14 year old to travel half the globe to meet a guy she was chatting to in MSN "channels" for MS to get slated for allowing this to happen.

    Childrens channel moderation should not be taken lightly. Here in the UK there is a lengthy screening process for anyone who work with children, and unless MS could guarantee correctly screened moderators (screend of course in EVERY country that the channels operate) there is no way they could protect themselves from outraged public opinion.. Parents like to blame other people for not watching their children closely enough, and if a child is using a major companies message system, they have an easy target for their ire.

    I personally believe any such undertaking to be ridden with obstacles, and microsoft as a "software" company are right to back away from this kind of thing
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:04AM (#7041911)
      FACT: The Internet is a public place, parents that let their children roam public places unsupervised are still responsable for letting them do so.
      • by mo^ ( 150717 )
        I couldn't agree more, but "concerned parents" groups like to place the blame firmly at anyone elses door.

        I'm just saying M$ are right to cover their own arses on this one.

    • Microsoft get lumbered with enough bad press as it is. All it takes is for one 14 year old to travel half the globe to meet a guy she was chatting to in MSN "channels" for MS to get slated for allowing this to happen

      Ok, think about that for a second. Have you EVER heard a report on the mainstream news that specified the company who owned the "chat" service? My guess is no. When you listen to them, they say "Internet Chat Room". AOL or Microsoft are NEVER referred to. MS and TW are also media companie
  • by Sevn ( 12012 )
    Seeing as how Microsoft doesn't seem to be rapidly gaining any ground in the browser wars, or the mid-range server OS wars, or the gaming console wars anymore, it might be good for them to concentrate on an instant messenger war for a little while so they can remember what it was like to win a war.
  • What a shame.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ckwop ( 707653 ) <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:51AM (#7041862) Homepage

    I think this consitutes the first step in a slow march towards the ban of unmonitored chat rooms. Something which is absolutely bizarre considering the fact that the chance of your child being groomed by a paedophile are probably about the same as your child being struck by lightening.. In the UK we see about three to four cases of this a year.

    More children get killed in car accidents.. in fact it's the biggest killer of under 12's if i recall correctly..

    Unmoderated chat is about freedom of speech. The price we pay for freedom is that evil, to some extent, is free too. A world without fear and terror is a world without freedom.

    Freedoms are being removed left, right and center in the post 9/11 world. The irony is that the terrorists succeeded.. The land(s) of the free are no longer as free as they used to be.. My forefathers fought for our freedom in blood.. We shouldn't give in.. Every man killed by a terrorist is a solider for freedom.. Let's not let democracy drown at the hands of a few.

    Simon

    • Unfortunaty Si, looks like our channel could be under threat if Carol Vorderman and the UK Gov have there way. Remember the minority always ruins it for the majority (votes, bush/gore...u know :))
    • Who cares if unmoderated chat rooms get taken off line - it's hardly a loss of personal freedom - it's not a right, its a service that has been provided free of charge by a profit making company.

      MSN chat has existed for less than 10 years. Talking with others in public or
      private has been around since lauguage developed.

      The internet is not a replacement for a social life, however it can be an extenstion.

      If you can tear yourself away from the internet, Why don't you enjoy your freedom to go down the pub to
  • by evil_one ( 142582 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:53AM (#7041872) Homepage
    that only MSN customers can use the chat service now. This is the reason that the countries that they keep a chat service in are countries that they have MSN in. (As an ISP)
    Now they know the names & credit card #'s of all the players in the chat rooms. (They actually say this in the article.) Apparently they will still have 'unmonitored' rooms, but I'd bet money that they still track specific usage.
  • For some reason, this seems world news. I don't agree. MSN chat has always been a GUI for IRC and IRC is not dead. At least, not yet. Undernet, Efnet, IRCnet, DALnet and a lot of smaller networks still exist and will do so for a long time.

    If lusers are smart enough to browse, they are likely to be smart enough to surf to the mIRC website [mirc.com] and download mIRC. Connect to your favorite network and the Chat Goes On!. However, MS has a point. (never thought I'd ever say that). IRC and chatting in general has be
  • Money (Score:4, Informative)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:55AM (#7041883)

    "In the United States, Canada and Japan, Microsoft will introduce an unsupervised chat service solely for subscribers,"

    "Users in the affected regions will still be able to chat online but must do so through Microsoft Messenger,"

    Of course it's about protecting children. Honest. The British press I've seen is latching onto the protecting the children angle to the exclusion of everything else. Bring back Chris Morris.

  • by PinglePongle ( 8734 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @04:59AM (#7041893) Homepage
    The European head of MSN was on the news this morning; she was singing the praises of messenger, including the highly dubious claim that "MSN Messenger is safe, because you know who you are talking to, unlike a chatroom where you can just bump into anyone". Huh ? You know who you're talking to on Messenger ? All you know is some hotmail account name; there's absolutely no guarantee that "bobby13" is indeed a 13 year old and not some drooling psychopath.

    I guess AOL is happy though.
  • long live iChat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:05AM (#7041916) Journal
    although it is using AOL or .Mac (both proprietary) it has 2 advantages :

    - Not bound to MS, who has a history if being big brother and control freak
    - kids can use the iSight, which works flawlessly and assures the person on the other line is indeed a kid and not an imposter.

    All that aside, I think this whole pedophile paranoia will one day grow a more mature and intelligent way of educating your kids. I have 2 toddlers myself, and get scared by the though that one day they will ride their bicycle from school to home alone. Does that mean I'll install a camera or GPS tracking in their forehead ? Offcourse not. Most parents agree with the fact that kids need to learn that the world can be a dangerous place, that strangers can be freaks, etc etc, but that all in all, it's a nice world, and we should be happy to live in it. The same holds for web communities. They have their inherent dangers, but all in all it's a nice world.

    Just watch for the freaks and don't do anything head-over-heels.
  • The Worlds gone mad (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cookeisparanoid ( 178680 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:07AM (#7041924) Homepage
    It seems these days people are afraid of everything, and Microsoft have used that fear to seems like they are doing us a favour by taking away a service!
  • by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:09AM (#7041933)
    I once went to the Sugababes' website (don't ask why) and the chatroom - clearly aimed at their pre-pubescent fanbase - appeared to be full of pervs trying to pick up kids - or kids pretending to be pervs trying to pick up kids, I'm not sure which. More dangerous than pr*n sites - pr*n sites may corrupt your kids, but they don't lure them into secret meetings or ask for photos.

    I do use one IRC channel, but it's a special one on QuakeNet for a few mates who used to play Quake 2 together - never any trouble in there.

    • I once went to the Sugababes' website (don't ask why)

      Why?

      I am strongly against actions such as banning technologies like Chat because the could be used by paedophiles. I also believe that in reality paedophiles are extremely rare. However, in the case of public chat groups like the one you mention, I do think that there is a moral obligation on behalf of the service provider to monitor it.
    • peared to be full of pervs trying to pick up kids - or kids pretending to be pervs trying to pick up kids

      Or maybe journalists acting like pervs who want to pick up kids to get an "exclusive", or LEOs acting as kids looking to be picked up by pervs, or just baiters looking to out pervs by publishing chat transcripts.

      I have always had the feeling that if there really is a population of pervs out there who believe their are many kids who want to be "groomed" it is because their are so many LEOs and journali
  • by pirhana ( 577758 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:09AM (#7041934)
    Shutting down services is not the answer for abuse of the system by some bad elements. The dangerous aspect of this is that, So called "abuses" of chat is applicable to irc and many other applications as well. There is also abuse of the systems in these applications too. So they could use the same argument to shut down any of these . On the contray if somebody is genuinely interested in stoping the abuse , they should look for serious level of parental level cotroll. Because perception of "morality" widely varies and whats acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to others.
  • Let Jabber [jabber.org] step up and recieve its rightfull place.

  • Precedent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zelurxunil ( 710061 )
    Im using an iMac, and apples iChat program. It is only a matter of time before AOL will lock out these types of clients. Its obviously their choice to make, and my choice to disagree with. I will not download the AOL client for AIM for mac os X, because I do not want any AOL software on my computer. Personally I think open source developers should create an instant messenging protocol of their own, I would be glad to help.
    • Umm no. Apple and AOL entered into a formal agreement to let iChat become an official AOL client. You have AOL's blessing to use iChat.

      Doesn't that make you feel good?

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:27AM (#7041996)

    This is nothing new. New technologies always inspire fear. When doing some research once I read an article in a magazine from around 1890 talking about how young ladies should not be allowed to use the telephone for more than a few minutes at a time due to fear that they weren't mentally strong enough to cope with the sensation of talking to a disembodied voice for very long.

    In my lifetime I seen fear of video cassette recorders (remember how "video nasties" were going to corrupt a whole generation of children?) and similar fear of video games, and now all this stuff related to the internet.

    The really stupid thing about all this from my point of view is how the press in the UK has caused the general public to believe that paedophilia (that is, adults that find pre-pubescent children sexually attractive) is common, when in reality it is very rare and probably no more so today than it was fifty or 100 years ago. This has caused, for instance, parents to be afraid to let their children go out to play outside. This is a real shame.
    • In my lifetime I seen fear of video cassette recorders (remember how "video nasties" were going to corrupt a whole generation of children?) and similar fear of video games, and now all this stuff related to the internet.
      Thou art but a youngester, knowest thou naught?
      Verily, William Caxton was a right rogue, with his printynge-presse, a worke from ye verey hande of 7atan to spread vyle and seditious corruption against ye Church, ye Kinge and all moralitie.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The really stupid thing about all this from my point of view is how the press in the UK has caused the general public to believe that paedophilia (that is, adults that find pre-pubescent children sexually attractive) is common, when in reality it is very rare and probably no more so today than it was fifty or 100 years ago. This has caused, for instance, parents to be afraid to let their children go out to play outside. This is a real shame.

      It has also seriously warped people's view of what is sexually no

  • by madmarcel ( 610409 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:37AM (#7042033)
    I know this is going to be modded 'redundant', but what the heck...let's sum this up:

    * Obviously Microsoft is not the only chat-room 'provider' in the world. Plenty of alternatives. Some of those alternatives are potentially less safe than whatever Microsoft provides.
    Most people will simply migrate to another form of chat-rooms. This will have no impact WHATSOVER on people trading porn and doing who knows what else in chatrooms.

    * Microsoft is going to provide 'subscription' based chat-rooms. Some monitored(?), some unsupervised? Either way, more control and money for Micro$oft. (And probably proprietary lock-in - or an attempt at that ;)

    * A subscription based chat-room means you need a credit-card to be able to use it. Who would be stupid enough to pay for something that you can get for free? It also means -> 'goodbye anonymous internet/chat-room user' -> 'hello Mr <insert name>, please pay here'. Also fits in well with the .NET eh..thingy strategy. (Preparing customers for a future where you have to pay for things that are free at the moment using some sort of subscription model)

    * A chat-room where people are registered (using their credit-card) is nice, and implies more responsible people, and possibly guarantees accountability and who knows what else, but (IMHO) the whole point and appeal of a chat-room was the anonymous access!

    * The media is focusing (almost exclusively) on the 'safer for our kids' angle...yeah right.
    The articles I've read seem to imply that Microsoft is the ONLY chat-room provider and that this is 'a great step forward'. Right. Whatever.

    I don't use IRC by the way. I can think of many better ways to waste my time.
  • About the lock-out (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @05:37AM (#7042034) Homepage Journal
    From /usr/share/doc/gaim/changelog.Debian.gz:
    gaim (1:0.68-1) unstable; urgency=low

    * New upstream version. (closes: #209021)
    - new event system and perl API
    - ignores MSN's upgrade spam (new MSN plugin will be in 0.69)
    Seems like users of free software are going to survive this time as well (if the new plugin works, that is). Now if only the Jabber servers can fix their transports as well.
  • Article sez:
    Microsoft Corp. announced Wednesday it would shut down its Internet chat rooms in 28 countries, saying the forums had become a haven for peddlers of junk e-mail and sex predators.
    Er, what country is a chatroom in. They are in the Internet country.
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @06:28AM (#7042203)
    A more pertinent question is why isn't MSN supervising it's channels? AOL does it, so why not them? If I were a parent I would take this as an implicit admission from MSN that kids are not safe using their service. I would see it as a recommendation to use another ISP that does try and provide a kid safe environment.


    Secondly, if these sickos are infesting the boards as they claim, one might wonder why there aren't an equal number of policemen and admins there to catch them and protect the kids. I'm sure MSN is in the unique position that it can post warnings, censor & monitor conversations initiated from the chat room and provide all kinds of interesting account data and logging if need be. How is closing the service so that kids and paedos disperse over a dozen unmoderated and worldwide servers going to make the internet a safer place?


    All in all, I think this talk of shutting the servers down is bunk. MSN could make their chatrooms safer but have chosen not to. This smacks more of knowing it will cost N million dollars to fix their service on the one hand and on the other to cut the service entirely, push people to their instant messaging and ban 3rd party chat clients all wrapped up in a moral blanket. After all, we all know these sickos are preying on MSN minors through their unauthorized Jabber clients right?

  • I think this is a typical "blowing smoke in your eyes" kind of situation. Child abusers aren't i most cases total strangers to the children. They aren't someone they just met on the street or in a chat room over the Internet. Most child abusers are intimate to the children they abuse: either a close family member or close friend of the family. Child abusers are, for the most part, people that are trusted by the parents. In some of the cases the parent *is* the abuser.

    We should be teaching and educating our
  • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @06:59AM (#7042334) Journal
    When I first saw the blurb for this MS child protection blurb, I was also looking at ads from this year's Computex trade show.
    The two side-by-side struck an interesting contrast. On the one hand we've got MS talking about how we can't trust kids to use text chatting because they're so obsessed with sex. On the other hand we've got dozens of consumer electronics firms partnering with MS to make this the year of the camera enabled wireless devices. So, what's the deal?
    If kids can't be trusted not to use the keyboards for text based sex --I mean how hard up can you get-- how are wireless cameras going to be the runaway product this year?
    There seems to be a real contradition between these two lines of thought. I suspect from my own memories of childhood that the answer is: yes kida are obsessed with sex and no, the camera enabled devices are not going to sell well.
    Most older adults tend to be camera shy and while kids tend to love the idea of posing for the camera, there's the definite possibility they might like too much.
  • So much cluelessness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @07:23AM (#7042463) Journal
    At luchtime, I was listening to Jeremy Vine's programme on Radio 2. This programme covers many current events things, and indeed the main topic of conversation was this MSN decision.

    It was astounding how incredibly clueless the top brass of childrens charities were. In fact, the word "incredibly" is simply inadequate to describe their cluelessness - "breathtakingly clueless" would probably be a better description. They were praising MSN, and saying how this helped solve so many problems, as if MSN removing their chat feature would suddenly mean there's no such thing as Internet chat any more. You don't even need to know how the Internet works to know only an idiot would think this. You now have pent-up massive demand for chat rooms with no where to go - so guess what, just as if there was massive demand for $RANDOM_GOOD in the bricks and mortar world, someone else will set up to fulfil this massive chunk of unfulfilled demand.

    As it happens, you only need slightly more knowledge of the Internet than a concussed bee to know that alternatives _already_ exist, starting with the granddaddy of them all, IRC. The only reason MSN Chat had the popularity it did was that it's the path of least resistance - for IRC you have to download a client, but I assume for MSN Chat everything's just provided. This unfulfilled demand will start downloading IRC clients no doubt (probably mIRC, so those who host mIRC downloads are probably in for the MSN equivalent of a Slashdotting).

    This is the reason why we shouldn't let these people have _any_ sort of power to legislate or make changes to the Internet - their understanding is so incredibly inadequate, they shouldn't even be allowed to run a high street store, let alone be involved in Internet legislation.
  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @07:30AM (#7042523) Homepage
    A few months ago, whenever I logged onto Hotmail there'd be adverts telling people to chat to strangers online. The person who made the most friends in a month would win a prize. Trouble brewing? You tell me.
  • Yeah, right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @07:38AM (#7042579) Homepage
    A better translation of the MSN press release would be:

    "Chat rooms too expensive, scape goat for closure found."

    By blaming pedophilia and advertising they can shut off the service with little user backlash.

    This is roughly in line with the changes to MSN messenger taking place on Oct 15th - no non-Windows/MS clients will be allowed to connect. An exemption may be arranged for Trillian, but no Linux or BSD clients will be available. This is apparently because of "security concerns and virus risk" - although if that was what you wanted to stop you would be more sensible disconnecting all of the Windows clients from the network :D
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @08:01AM (#7042748) Homepage
    AIM is the messenger of choice for anyone not associated with MSN; isn't this just a way of marketing their online service?

    They're going for the "technically inept parent who is afraid fo the internet" market.

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