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Parental Control Software Datamines Kids' Online Conversations

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the get-used-to-it-kids dept.

Communications 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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105 comments

Unsafe at any SPEED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29339943)

Long live the guardians !!

Re:Unsafe at any SPEED (2, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341451)

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.......

Do I smell a lawsuit? (3, Funny)

El Jynx (548908) | more than 4 years ago | (#29339953)

Yup, I think I do, yesss preciousss. Filthy nasssty antiprivacccccy dataminersessss! OUR precioussss!

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29339985)

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

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340329)

This. Or has that meme been played out?

There is probably something in the install EULA that says that for additional clauses or changes to the EULA, people should always visit the company's website. It's like the terms of your credit card. There's always a clause in there that says they can change the terms at any time and give you notice. The clause in the EULA will tell you to go to their website for changes and update privacy information.

IIRC the online protection law in the USA has a 13 year old cut off point and that like most things, the parent's wishes determine what happens. And since the parent is installing the software and agreeing to the license, the presumption will be that the parent wanted to permit the datamining.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340753)

i guess everyone will have to hire a lawyer before they install any software, its a shame that lengthy and complicated wording in EULAs are used to hide intrusive spyware & malware and just plain malicious behavior, i hope EULAs like that NEVER stand up in court

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340863)

Sure they should. If you agree to something you should be held accountable.

Anything less breaks down the entire concept of contract law. " wahhh.... i don't like your terms, so ill agree but wont follow them". Very dangerous precedent.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340939)

Contract law is also based on the principle that you can't agree to something illegal: i.e. if you agreed to it, unless it led to you doing something illegal, the person who made you sign the contract ("you will be my slave" for example) is liable for it and at least this clause of the contract is voided.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341429)

Sure, but you can't legally enforce a contract that is illegal. Also, its impossible to know what the EULA is before you buy the software in most cases and most of the time its either impossible or a pain to return opened software. So its like this, here you are going to need to give me the money in advance, then read the contract and sign, oh and if you don't like the contract, well you already took the contract so you can't take it back.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29343361)

The response to that will be, "Yeah, our EULA is on our web site. If you want to read it there, you can."

Companies know that the number of people who'll actually go to the website and read the EULA before buying the software will be vanishingly small.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (3, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#29342385)

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

Bullshit. When parents find out their children are being used for profit-making without their consent, not only is it going to be a shitstorm but it just might get COPPA reinstated.
Never underestimate the backlash of millions of pissed off parents. Many of them will do absolutely psychotic things to defend their children from any perceived threat.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

jesset77 (759149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29347663)

Never underestimate the backlash of millions of pissed off parents. Many of them will do absolutely psychotic things to defend their children from any perceived threat.

Oh, granted.. but I believe that only us Nerds perceive the threat of coprorate data stalking, and those few of us nerds who have kids aren't card carrying members of any of the more influencial municipal mobs, so..

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340073)

Spying on children's private conversations: not a brilliant business move.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340227)

I seem to recall there is some federal law about protecting children's online privacy; but presumably the makers of this software anticipated that.

Re:Do I smell a lawsuit? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340583)

Well Paypal tried to anticipate potential lawsuits when they wrote their User Agreement, but the U.S. court very quickly expelled those portions. The court said that people can Not sign-away legally protected rights or privileges.

Similarly a child or parent can not sign-away the children's right not to be monitored, regardless of what this software's EULA states.

That is what you get (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29339973)

When you delegate your parental responsibilities.

Re:That is what you get (5, Insightful)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340087)

When you delegate your parental responsibilities.

As a parent of a three year old girl, I agree with you. However, standing over their shoulder the entire time they use a computer is not going to be very productive.

I wish more parents would understand that you have about 8 years from the time that a kid is born to install a sense of confidence and worth in them that can't be easily (if at all) broken by future peers, predators or come what may. If you manage to do it, your kid will make good choices.

No software is a substitute for a desire in a child to make good, positive self serving choices when they are confronted with the various bumps in growing up.

What a world this police state is becoming, sheesh.

Re:That is what you get (4, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:That is what you get (3, Funny)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340787)

Children as half-employees and half-property? Speak for yourself. I think of them as half fuel and half dog food.

Re:That is what you get (1, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340841)

Mod parent up. Repeating these cliches is so interesting and informative.

He mentioned we have violence but no sex on our TV! Did you know that?!? And he complained about parents! (Not sure what he was trying to say about parents, but some of them are bad, I guess.)

It's the world's most insightful post.

Re:That is what you get (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29341271)

Actually, YOURS is the world's most insightful post.

Re:That is what you get (0, Redundant)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29342905)

Actually, YOURS is the world's most insightful post.

Now you're just being sarcastic.

Re:That is what you get (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29343397)

There's a reason these stereotypes exist. Its because, in a large number of cases, they're actually true. If nothing else, the success of these companies proves that. The success of "Think of the children!" legislation proves it too.

No one in power is standing up to the parents of America and saying, "Hey, the reason your kids are fat and emotionally maladjusted is because you're too scared to let them go out on their own and make their own decisions." So, its up to people like us to make that point and hammer away at it until it sinks in.

Re:That is what you get (1)

koshatul (198070) | more than 4 years ago | (#29344749)

He mentioned we have violence but no sex on our TV!

So if we ban Violence on TV and allow Sex then we'll create a world of lovers not fighters.

I say we test this theory.

Re:That is what you get (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340549)

I don't yet have any children of my own but I agree with basic philosophy on parenting. My parents pretty much raised me that way and I'd like to think I turned out all right. I would partner permitting of course want the same for my children and would be EXACTLY like my parents were; you know that thing every teenager always says they would never do.

I am not sure about the computer supervision though. At least during that vulnerable time when you want to be instilling your values I think you do want to look over your kids shoulder; same with TV. I doubt you need any software or anything to do it though. Give them their own machine without network access so they can use the software you give them hack on it whatever; and put the devices where external media will be consumed someplace communal within the home. Like the family room that is in view of the kitchen a rec room where you can set up a desk for yourself to do some paper work or something like that. You probably don't need to be standing over their shoulder literally just being in the room where you look up every now and then would be mostly sufficient.

Re:That is what you get (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340091)

It hasn't been a problem up until now; TV never let us down like this.

Re:That is what you get (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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:That is what you get (1)

durin (72931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340183)

You might want to mention that to your government (I assume you're from the US from your sig).

Re:That is what you get (1)

faffod (905810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341619)

As a parent who understands computers I have set my my daughter's account to only allow email, IM and web pages from white listed friends/sites. Most parents I know do not come close to feeling comfortable setting up a computer with those settings. It is not that they do not want to be parents, quite the contrary they are involved in their child's development. They actively take steps to guide their child, and purchasing software to restrict access to the internet is a reasonable step in that direction. I don't think that blaming the victim is a constructive argument.

Re:That is what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29342473)

The best part is, guess who's opinions they're gonna get? Kids who have everything censored for them.

Destroying childrens privacy in order to save them (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29339995)

Part of me wants to give a big Nelson ha-ha to the overprotective parents who install this crap trying to save their children from the eeeevil people on the Internet. Is it really any surprise that the corporations most interested in "protecting" your children are those who have figured out a way to exploit them?

Re:Destroying childrens privacy in order to save t (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29342791)

Well, the other part of you will cry in terror, when those children are going to become leaders of the world, controlling your life too. (Ok, not really leaders, because they never learned to be anything else than doormats. :/)

Re:Destroying childrens privacy in order to save t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29349307)

Is it really any surprise that the corporations most interested in "protecting" your children are those who have figured out a way to exploit them?

No, it is not.

Sue them. (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340017)

Seriously. EULA or not, this is invading the children privacies. There must be a law against this.

Re:Sue them. (2, Insightful)

KlaasVaak (1613053) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340061)

Well I don't know about America but in the EU this would certainly be illegal I think you wouldn't even have to file a civil suit they would just be prosecuted But I know in America companies have much more freedom to fuck over their customers so maybe this was legal with you.

EU policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340257)

Well I don't know about America but in the EU this would certainly be illegal I think you wouldn't even have to file a civil suit they would just be prosecuted

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").

Re:EU policy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:EU policy (2, Funny)

koshatul (198070) | more than 4 years ago | (#29344849)

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

That sounds like alot of coding and work, isn't it easier just to get full transcripts and sort it out later ?

Denial: They wouldn't do anything like that to you.
Anger: It's your fault for not reading the EULA.
Barganing: How else can they make ends meet in this economy, you need the software, they need the data.
Depression: (actually, isn't the economy heading for one now ?)
Acceptance: Oh well, all hail our new child protection overlords.

Re:Sue them. (3, Insightful)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340729)

I seem to recall there being a law stating that no information may be collected from a under 13 years of age. It's called the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) [coppa.org] . I don't know much more about what the software is asking, and whom it is asking, but it seems to me they're treading dangerous ground by doing this kind of thing.

Re:Sue them. (5, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341079)

The child didn't agree to the EULA.

Re:The child didn't agree to the EULA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29341507)

mod this fucker UP!

Re:Sue them. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29346071)

Does a child have right to privacy, however? It's not a troll question - I'm genuinely interested in an answer from someone who's qualified to answer... I know that children do not get many rights that adults enjoy; I wouldn't be surprised to find out that, legally, privacy is one of these rights, and that parents can "sign it away" on their kids' behalf, so to speak.

That's just one program that does this... (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340051)

How many more programs are there that do the same?

I never liked to have programs running in the background... this is just another reason not to install any program at all that wants to start up when I turn the computer on.

Privacy... what's that?

Can someone just make sure that these freaks are locked away for a decade or two please? Any invasion of privacy as extreme as this surely is illegal???

Re:That's just one program that does this... (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340707)

Heh - as a very tangentially related item, am I the only one that when starting at a new business runs hijackthis to hunt down any and all background processes and kill them off if I don't explicity want it running?

Half the time there's something there. Be it malware, spyware in the sense that the boss wants to spy on you, or some other such nonsense (every ad-bar you can imagine).

Thankfully my current employer allows me to use Ubuntu on my desktop, but it helps that I'm the senior unix engineer. I've also owned my own company and my primary laptop has been a mac for almost 8 years now. But I swear - Windows machines are EVIL. Too many things hiding themselves away in the registry, as services, etc. I'll get the old "but it's not your machine" blah blah blah, but really. When I find a subversive VNC server that doesn't show up in the taskbar or systray - it's getting killed off. Sure, it *could* be for the benefit of IT to do remote support (unlikely that I'd ever call for it), and there's always RDP for that. You want to watch what I'm doing on that machine, come watch. Don't expect to be able to spy on me. If you have other employees that are okay with it, or are too ignorant to stop it, fine. Not me. You want to terminate me? Your call - but regardless of whether it's your machine or not, whether there's any "implied" sense of privacy in the workplace or not, I put my foot down there.

Then again, I also ssh -D (portnum) home.dom, use Firefox, tunnel over socks, and then go to about:config and set DNS to resolve via socks too. You won't be seeing my surfing habits or even my dns lookups. Again - you want to fire me over it, your call. So far no one has said boo. I do my job, and I do good work. /rant over.

Sounds Illegal to me (5, Informative)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340059)

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.

Re:Sounds Illegal to me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340261)

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.

Well... I'm gonna answer this one from a guy's perspective. Of course, I'm your typical artsy fartsy guitar player kind of guy who would rather be drawing, writing, or making music than having a party...

But anyways, I got a lovely girlfriend and a drop of beer didn't help me at all to get her or attract her to me.

It's not important for a guy to drink.

Usually the kind of guys that like to get drunk are total asses... Believe me, I got experience on that one.

Re:Sounds Illegal to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340279)

Holy crap, a chance to use "think of the children" for the powers of GOOD?

Someone get on this RIGHT AWAY.

Not apparently illegal [Re:Sounds Illegal to me] (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340303)

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:Not apparently illegal [Re:Sounds Illegal to me (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29343419)

FTA:"We never know the name of the kid -- it's bobby37 on the house computer"

How many Bobby's live in the house? And what info do they ask for when you register the software? Name, address, phone, etc. Crap, there's a good chance that the computer's named "Johnson Family Laptop"
They know the names, and they save the registration info. I would further guess that they provide data by location to these companies as well. So they know that Bobby37 is on the computer at 1400 Main St whose parents are Don and Judy Johnson, but they don't know the name of the kid? Even with complicated relationships (step-parents, divorces, etc.), Bobby Johnson is a pretty good bet.

They will be sued, and they will lose this one, if they don't get criminally prosecuted first. They're not doing well financially, discovery alone should probably cost enough to bankrupt them.

Re:Not apparently illegal [Re:Sounds Illegal to me (1)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29344073)

Yes, I see your point. You may be right. At least, it looks like the act [coppa.org] specifically defines personal information as including an "identifier" that, while defined broadly, wouldn't cover aggregate statistical information culled from these raw data streams.

I wonder if there still isn't a COPPA angle to prosecute, for some enterprising DA.

If EchoMetrix is like most American marketing data firms, they have no safeguards or controls, so raw data may be going to partners, subcontractors, "affiliates," etc. That could constitute a disclosure, with the caveat:

"...except where such information is provided to a person other than the operator who provides support for the internal operations of the website and does not disclose or use that information for any other purpose..."

Consider, too, that the rules are quite broad. For instance, if you simply track users with an "anonymous" ID in a cookie, and the rest of the data stream could ever conceivably include something identifying (i.e. the child identifying themselves accidentally), then your data is covered under the act. If you are thinking this means sites aimed at children effectively cannot use cookies, you are correct - this is the net effect of the law, AFAIK.

I doubt the parent's use of "net nanny" style software constitutes the necessary consent to disclose.

But who knows. At any rate, I think I stand corrected. This looks like a reach at best.

Re:Not apparently illegal [Re:Sounds Illegal to me (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29344575)

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.

However, what qualifies as 'individually identifiable' may be a lot broader than it first appears. Remember the recent case of correlating imdb ratings with presumably anonymous netflix rental data used for their recommendation contest to figure out what other movies the imdb users had rented but had not rated? There could easily be "in the bigger picture" privacy leaks like that going on here too.

Re:Sounds Illegal to me (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29343423)

And, as far as parental consent is concerned, the company already has it. After all, it was the *parent* that installed this software, implicitly consenting to said data gathering about their child.

Highly Vauable Information (5, Informative)

gsslay (807818) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Highly Vauable Information (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340369)

Early results indicate that kids are pre-occupied with gayness (in an unfocussed and confused way)

Well, to be fair, so is the entire Republican party.

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

Don't be silly. Cooties are responsible for most illnesses. Boys get 'em from kissing girls. But, of course, only kids who are totally gay would be kissing girls. Ick!

Of course, once you get above the 9-year-old demographic, the scientific consensus changes.

Wonderful ... (4, Insightful)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340123)

FamilySafe: Protecting your kids, but not from us!

Sounds familiar... (1)

merlin65537 (721810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340631)

You know those e-mail filters where you have to solve a CAPTCHA when you send somebody an e-mail? With some of those, when you fill out the CAPTCHA, you get e-mails a couple of days/weeks later asking you if you want to sign up for their service - so they are trying to sell an anti-spam product by sending spam. Actually I also got some real spam (=randomly picked addresses) advertising these services, too. Same principle ...

It's not just children's conversations... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Scare tactics (3, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340159)

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.

Cue lawsuits (1)

Diabolus Advocatus (1067604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340173)

Cue lawsuits as the wife starts getting targeted advertisements for 'hot sluts in your area' due to the husbands chatting habits...

Re:Cue lawsuits (3, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340299)

"Cue lawsuits as the wife starts getting targeted advertisements for 'hot sluts in your area' due to the husbands chatting habits..."

Cue divorces as husbands start getting targeted advertisements for 'hot sluts in your area' displaying their wives.

completely understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340177)

such data is especially crucial to world perce
analyze and eliminate terrorist

This is just par for the course... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340235)

...if you use Microsoft Windows. The Microsoft ecosystem has always been a haven for unscrupulous usurpers of the desktop for profit, and user-experience, business ethics, and software quality be damned.

The reason malware and adware is so prevalent on that platform is that their ilk have never been discouraged by Microsoft. In fact, quite the opposite. As long as it profits the vendor or Microsoft, everything is permitted.

The only guideline for Windows software appears to be that the software programmer must be the same person as the designer, must be fresh out of college, must have an undeveloped sense of aesthetics, and must be replaceable by some other fresh graduate who will work for half the salary.

A love of layered tabs also helps.

Proprietary software is evil (3, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340273)

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.

Interesting resume (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340517)

"Skilled developer, designer and mentor with over 15 years of industry experience. Focus on high-quality reusable code, and designs that stand the test of time. Also an innovator and source of new ideas who can push them forward in a way that's greeted positively by the entire organization. A rare blend of good communication skills and technical excellence. "

You forgot to add "modest" to that list.

Oh , wait...

Re:Interesting resume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29342313)

mod this down off topic and ad hominen atttack

Re:Proprietary software is evil (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340749)

The old 'if you've got nothing to hide, you won't mind us looking around' argument? I'll admit it's not as big a privacy concern as the real life use of it, but I just don't see what's so evil about not handing out your work in a form that allows people to use it without paying you for your efforts. While I do appreciate open source software, I don't have a problem with people writing software that isn't.

Re:Proprietary software is evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29341831)

Uh, there's a difference between free software and letting people see the source code. I suspect many on this site, including myself, would prefer that all software be free software (source available and shareable), but the GP only seems to be asking for the software's source to be available -- it could still be just as illegal to share that source it is to share the binaries.

Re:Proprietary software is evil (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341901)

So, you're saying that once I buy a piece of software, it isn't really mine and so it the original developer has some kind of privacy right with respect to looking around inside of how it works?

Re:Proprietary software is evil (1)

Spamalope (91802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341305)

So why doesn't the open source community combine tech from web harvesters and spambots to create false info to pollute the data?

Even better, google bomb the data and see if any companies that use that data can be convinced to bring doomed products to market based on the false data.

Wait, does this explain the hello kitty vibrator and harry potter vibrating broomstick? Now we need a buzz about needing 'walking bear' t-shirts with links to a pedo-bear seal of approval.

Re:Proprietary software is evil (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29345431)

It's almost certain their software is doing something that benefits themselves at your expense.

With all due respect, that's really a load of crap. It's the same "you can't prove it's not true so it is!" crap people always use to push a particular agenda when they have nothing to back it up.

You like open-source software? Great, so do I. That doesn't mean it's "almost certain their software is doing something that benefits themselves at your expense" if they choose not to release the source code. There are plenty of reasons to not release source code that don't include malice as a cornerstone.

Kids aren't worth it. (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340673)

I decided long ago, to never have kids. Kids aren't worth it, and this is a horrible world to raise kids in. Every time Slashdot has something on the subject of kids, its some horrible and obscene shit that makes me wish I was never born. This company should have the book thrown at them. So do the parents.

What the fuck are parents thinking? Seriously.

Re:Kids aren't worth it. (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29341397)

I don't like what this company is doing and will avoid the product and tell others to do so. I am a privacy advocate. Even I wouldn't say that a company trying to make money is necessarily "horrible and obscene". Until "datamining the Internet activities of minors" becomes a crime, this is no more horrible and obscene than television. We all have the choice to switch that off, too.

The difference for me is that a computer is far more useful than a television.

By the way, I don't condemn you for not having children and you are free to your opinion. But if you have not had children, your opinion is incomplete. If it isn't worth it *to you*, however you measure the worth, that is your decision.

Technology is a tool, not a substitute (5, Insightful)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29340759)

My wife and I view our responsibility as parents as very basic:

1) Provide basic necessities an enjoyments of life (emphasis on necessities)
2) Provide love and a feeling of trust and safety in the home
3) Teach them a strong sense of identity and self-worth
4) Teach our kids what choices are, how to recognize good from bad choices, and how to accept the consequences of you actions

For computers, here's our strategy:

1) Place computers in a open public place (including our own)
2) Teach them that computers are a tool and how people use it for good and bad
3) Openly discuss what acceptable and unacceptable behavior with computers/games are
4) Limit time spent on computer
5) As much as possible, don't create double standards
6) Use OpenDNS and block certain sites depending on their age

We feel parental technology should be used to reinforce what you're already teaching, not as a substitute.

Re:Technology is a tool, not a substitute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29342369)

That is a good strategy. one additional remark: while doing this always consider that in 30 years time your children will be doing the same with your cybernetic implants and all will be fine :-)

Free alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29340885)

Why not use Green Dam instead? It's freely available... also prevents your children from becoming revoluzzers!

Filtering (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29342097)

I'd like to say that this would be a blow to filtering, but I know it won't be - the average person doesn't even know what "datamining" is, never mind the average parent. As it has been said above - most parents would probably agree to sign away all their child(ren)'s privacy and rights, as long as there was no chance of them accidentally glimpsing anything sexual in nature, and it won't matter to them - the majority don't give their children rights or privacy anyway, so why should they care if it's a company doing the same thing as them? They wouldn't be able to reproach the companies without looking like hypocrites.

My philosophy: Parental control = censorship. (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#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. :/

Re:My philosophy: Parental control = censorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29342925)

Ever had to deal with a 6 year old that inadvertently ended up on rotten.com ?

Re:My philosophy: Parental control = censorship. (2, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29345177)

You know what I think makes one unfit to be a parent? Commenting on hypothetical parents with hypothetical children using absolute statements that attempt to assert some sort of moral superiority for letting kids do anything they want.

Contrary to what you think, there isn't a right or wrong answer; it's specific to the parents and the child. Some may consider it a good opportunity to let their children go wherever they want on the Internet and then talk about whatever they see as it comes up. That's perfectly healthy. So is wanting to make sure your child is mentally and/or emotionally prepared for such discussion. I don't personally have a problem with sex or relatively small children seeing it, but I certainly wouldn't want to be explaining bestiality or why that man has that woman tied to the ceiling and is hurting her to a six year old. It's also worth throwing in at this point that parental controls are about more than content blocking.

Some people are control freaks, some people are fools, some people will take things farther than they need to go. But thinking differently than you does not instantly make somebody stupid or an unfit parent. It does not make their decisions some disease to avoid passing on at all costs.

Personally, I'd be more concerned about passing on your grammar than a parent deciding porn sites aren't appropriate for a six year old.

Turning around the gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29343919)

How long will it take for some smart kids to reverse the gun and start blackmailing their parents?

It's not just the kids... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29344005)

I recently received an email from Comcast that states that they are changing their so-called "Privacy Policy" to include data gathering from all of their internet service customers.

The problem (besides the obvious)?

The "opt-out" option doesn't work.

A couple of the 3rd party partners flat out refuse to allow opting out, and the rest ALL require you to keep a "blank cookie" on your machine to opt-out. The problem is that the vast majority of sites you visit don't work unless you allow a new cookie (including slashdot, it appears).

Here da links..Yeah, you have to dig a little as the obfuscation is pretty heavy-handed.

"Comcast may work with Comcast affiliates and trusted partners to provide tailored content and advertising based on non-personally identifiable information, but you may choose to opt-out of tailored advertising as described more fully in the Privacy Policy and FAQs."

http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/FAQViewer.aspx?Guid=dfcbf43e-91b2-4444-a04d-8d7c68fcb356 [comcast.com]

The list:
http://www.comcast.net/privacy/2009-10/#partners [comcast.net]

Comcast is NOT in the business of providing Internet service, they are in the business of piping advertising to target demographics as well as defining those demographics.

One of the scariest parts of this is that Yahoo is on the list, which means MICROSOFT is on the list...joy.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29344639)

"We never know the name of the kid -- it's bobby37 on the house computer," Greene said.

Protect those most vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29346241)

Dear God, won't someone think of the marketers?

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