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Parental Control Software Datamines Kids' Online Conversations 105

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."
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Parental Control Software Datamines Kids' Online Conversations

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  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:22AM (#29339985) Homepage Journal

    i doubt it. Im sure there was something deep down in the fine print that will derail a suit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:39AM (#29340137)

    Children are not the only people who use these blockers. Adults use them too. Anyone who sits at that computer while the blocker is enabled is going to be logged. Some adults even put it on even if they don't have children to police their own surfing if they have an addiction.

  • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:41AM (#29340157)

    The problem isn't the kids, the problem is that some (probably uncomfortably large) percentage of parents absolutely refuse to consider their children as anything other than half employee and half property. You raise your kids to never know privacy, dignity, or respect and unless they are particularly unique in some way that shakes them free of the pattern they'll be doormats to anyone that wants to violate them in a similar way.

    It doesn't help that we're the country that has no problem with flooding our kids with violence but god help us if they might possibly see a nipple somewhere, let alone anything else, and so parents will fall over themselves to pay various companies god knows how much for every knee-jerk reaction they can wring out of them.

  • Scare tactics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:42AM (#29340159) Homepage
    Well, what did you expect? Blocking software is basically an outgrowth of monitoring / usage software primarily developed for targetted marketing. So of course it monitors, the better build its' database.

    Of course the kids have privacy rights, but as minors cannot exercise these which the parents/guardians have a fiduciary duty to exercise. The parents doubtless click agreement when the software is installed.

    The real problem is that parents are scared into agreement by media overhyping low probability events and omitting crucial explanations / causes. So the parents hear: "Your kids could be another Columbine or victim" to sell whatever schlock they're peddling. Non-sequitur but the data is obscured.

    A bigger question is why people like being scared. Adrenline rush? Most TV news runs that way. I never understood the popularity of horror flicks.

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <> on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:55AM (#29340273) Homepage Journal

    One thing I always tell people is that people who won't show you the source code to their software have something to hide. It's almost certain their software is doing something that benefits themselves at your expense. Sovereignty over your own possessions requires that you insist on visible source code, even if you can't understand it yourself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:01AM (#29340313)

    Cable PVR boxes send usage stats to the cable co (uk) , ok they dont know WHO is watching, but they know exactly what you have watched, if you skipped the ads etc.

  • Re:Sue them. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:09PM (#29341079)
    The child didn't agree to the EULA.
  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:28PM (#29342621)

    No exceptions. It's morally wrong, and only "required" if you're an unfit parent that does not have the combination of true respect and ability to educate.

    Also it is for those sick twisted minds, who somehow got the idea that sex & co. would somehow be bad and even hurt children. Something that makes absolutely no sense, if you so much as think about if for more than ten seconds.

    It's really rather sad. Parents giving their unfitness and diseases to their poor children, who then continue to infect others.
    Only education can cure that. Social education and education about how to avoid false social conditioning.
    But unfortunately, the government works -- on a higher level -- in the same unfit and sick way.

    Basically, we're fucked. :/

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27