Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UT Dallas Professor Captures the Mobile Interactions of 175 Texas Teens

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-would-you-think-that-was-creepy? dept.

Blackberry 146

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.

cancel ×

146 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Expensive blackberries (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736537)

If he spent 3.4 million on 175 blackberries I've got to ask - are they gold-plated with diamond keys?

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Interesting)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736609)

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

If you're using it in a back-and-forth, "Instant Message" way, it's pretty easy to rack up that many messages.

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736859)

But I have a question, I'm 15 years old, and I have a blackberry that can send picture I take to myself as an email attachment.

I took a lot of picture of me naked, then sent them to myself using this feature, can I sue the email provider for storing them ?

Re:Expensive blackberries (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736923)

Doesn't that make you a producer of CP? You'd probably get into more trouble as you're intentionally taking the photos, whereas your ISP is only accidentally storing them.

Re:Expensive blackberries (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737013)

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

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737213)

Because he doesn't have expensive lawyers or political connections to defend him.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736929)

You can be arrested for distributing child pornography if you are in the USA. See Slashdot back stories for a specific example...

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736961)

So all the kids who take pictures of themselve are pedophiles according to the US laws ?

Re:Expensive blackberries (4, Informative)

JustSomeProgrammer (1881750) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737025)

Yep. Won't someone think of the children and protect them from being exploited by... themselves?

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737085)

My point exactly, I must be one hell of a pedophile for touching myself every night. Stupid law is you ask me...

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737249)

Its very stupid. It shows just how powerful stupid people are in America. Most of them are not even good breeding stock.

Try striking down the low such that it makes sense and these same stupid people will happily proclaim you're a pedophile attempting to help other pedophiles. As such, no one will touch the stupidity which is most laws on the books these days.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737713)

So all the kids who take pictures of themselve are pedophiles according to the US laws ?

Yep. What's even better is that they are charged as adults for creating child pornography of themselves.

Re:Expensive blackberries (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736949)

>>> "Instant Message" way, it's pretty easy to rack up that many messages.

Indeed. 100 a day is easy. I'm disappointed Virgin Mobile got rid of its Texter's Delight for $15 (~500 minutes but unlimited texts). They've really gone downhill since Sprint acquired them.

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736719)

So what you're saying is that you have no friends. Gotcha.

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736759)

On some days I cross 200, so 98/teen/day does not seem too high

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736799)

That's roughly what I figured it to as well. But you have to remember that a lot of teens replace what used to be normal face-to-face interaction with text messaging and each message approximates one sentence (often less) in a verbal conversation. Also, I assume it counts both sent and received messages, so figure them sending roughly half of that.

Re:Expensive blackberries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737005)

Don't confuse "adding" with "replacing". What you meant to say was that teens have ADDED additional text based communications on top of the existing social interactions they naturally do every day. The only thing social situation it "replaces" are 1 minute phone calls that we now do via email or IM.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737145)

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

Re:Expensive blackberries (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737869)

Don't confuse "adding" with "replacing". What you meant to say was that teens have ADDED additional text based communications on top of the existing social interactions they naturally do every day.

No, I'm pretty sure they meant what they said, and considering every adolescent I run across these days is forehead-deep in some sort of communication device, I'm inclined to agree.

Which leads me to ask - if these kids had the option to bypass their verbal 'social interactions,' as you put it, with textual ones, would they become mutes?

The only thing social situation it "replaces" are 1 minute phone calls that we now take 10 minutes to do via email or IM.

FTFY, while simultaneously pointing out the irony of referring to time consuming textual communication as "instant."

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737465)

The paper said that both girls and boys were roughly the same, averaging at sending about 110 messages per day.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Informative)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736737)

Grant money also goes to help paying salaries, student tuition, equipment, and additional workers. Don't forget about the money for the database, db administrators/developers, computers, and all the other technical work involved for four years. Also, the school also takes out a large chunk, ours tacks up to 50% extra on top of the subtotal.

You'd be surprised how expensive research can get. Not that I'm justifying that it should be that expensive, just saying there's a lot involved in the budget. Not everybody has access to cheap, available undergrads capable of doing the work. :p

Re:Expensive blackberries (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736813)

Plus universities take a percentage off the top of all grant money. At most schools I believe something like 50% is taken right off the top.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Interesting)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Expensive blackberries (5, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736973)

My friend works for that research group. They upgrade the teen's phones every year to the newest "flagship" phone. Keep in mind that the kids opting in to this need a reason to continue with the project. That means a new iPhone2, iPhone 3, iPhone 3S, iphone4, iPhone4s etc. I think most of the kids switched off blackberries a long time ago.
 
I'm not sure how big the research team is, but there's at least 4 full time non-students in the group. They don't keep an archive of all the data, interestingly. Probably for privacy reasons. They do classify the data in to positive/negative text messages, and identify who in the group are the alphas, betas, etc.
 
I honestly wouldn't worry about the kid's data privacy/rights, knowing who works in that group, they're all a really good group of people and outstanding citizens overall.

Re:Expensive blackberries (3, Insightful)

netsavior (627338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737359)

the 4+ people who work on the project aren't the ones who own the data, the university is.

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

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737493)

I honestly wouldn't worry about the kid's data privacy/rights, knowing who works in that group, they're all a really good group of people and outstanding citizens overall.

Yes, yes. That sentiment has never gone wrong.

Re:Expensive blackberries (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737513)

they don't archive it? interesting, and a shame.

I would just assumed they would blind the data by assigning users a random number to identify text streams in the archived database.

Re:Expensive blackberries (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737183)

Um... 3.4 million for a blackberry enterprise server, phone plans, 175 phones, SEC approved monitoring equipment (monitoring them as though they were employees) and graduate student salaries. Paying the participants for yearly meetings, data hosting and backups.

And remember, this was on phone plans set up several years ago too.

Sure, that works out to about 5000 dollars per phone per year for 4 years. But it's hard to know just how many people are being paid on the backend for all of these things, what percentage the university takes, if they have to pay even one professor level person out of this for 4 years you're sucking up a LOT of cash on that, and as it even says, they have to hand process all of the texts (or even machine edit, you still need to pay for that software).

How is this better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736555)

Than keeping people in space?

I have a better idea (1, Insightful)

PastBlast (2617971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736557)

How about a $3.4M grant researching how universities and colleges abuse the privacy of teens and students?

Re:I have a better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736735)

Fucken privacy fagets. If there so worried about they're privacy they dont need to participate in this studies. They should of asked privacy questions ahead of time. I think most people who are worried about privacy have secrets to keep, like that there fagets on the side but they're friends dont know that there fagets.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

John Napkintosh (140126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736807)

It doesn't take $3.4M to say "their parents consented to it".

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736831)

Abuse how? They know what they're getting into. They received the phones with the express condition of the monitoring. And it requires the parents' consent as well as the children's.

Re:I have a better idea (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737023)

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

Re:I have a better idea (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737283)

Doesn't the summary say they weren't exactly told their activity would be monitored?

Re:I have a better idea (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737527)

no. It says they aren't reminded.

And that makes sense, you want to trap as natural flow of information as possible.

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736971)

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

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

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

Re:I have a better idea (5, Informative)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736975)

You do know that R01 grants aren't exactly done on a secret handshake agreement, right? There are so many hoops academic researchers have to jump through to get federal funding. And I say that as someone who almost lost his job the day after landing a big grant, because I accidentally kept someone out of the loop. Your grant proposal gets reviewed by your department people, by the IRB committee, by the university's office of research, and by internal counsel (if needed) BEFORE it ever leaves campus. And then it gets reviewed by program officers, and many impartial and often vicious grant reviewers. And let's not forget that NIH grant success rates in many institutes are approaching 10%, so likely it won't matter at all because you won't get funded.

And, shockingly, the grant description has been available at NIH.gov since at least 2009: "An important innovation of this phase of the longitudinal study will be careful assessment of social aggression in online communication by providing adolescents with handheld devices and recording and coding the content of their text messaging, Instant Messaging, and email communication." [forbes.com]

You personally may disagree with the decision that the project is ethical, but you can't argue that they weren't honest with everyone about what they set out to do.

Re:I have a better idea (2)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737033)

Damn, pasted wrong URL. Hate it when I do that.

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=8070026&icde=12211723 [nih.gov]

Re:I have a better idea (0)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737899)

It's a great way to farm karm, though. Unlike this post.

Re:I have a better idea (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736999)

LIkely this went through layers of reviews of what exactly can and can't be done with and to the data, and explicitly spelling out to the people getting the phones just what they've agreed to.

You can't get this kind of data without 'violating' privacy in some way or another (I use quotes because as long as they've spelled out what exactly they're doing it's not technically a violate0. But that's also what makes it valuable research, you can't know what people are actually using the devices for without asking them to fully tell you. That real information about how devices are actually use is tremendously valuable to all sorts of different groups of people, from the technical side of things to the sociology and history people.

From TFA they seemed to have based their data gathering on SEC rules for gathering data on employee communications and use the same technology. Essentially the students are being given cell phones the way your employer would give you one, and monitored and data aggregated accordingly. They are yearly paid 50 bucks for visits, sign yearly consent forms and are fully aware of what exactly is being tracked, which, admittedly, produces certain biases in the data. They know they're being monitored and that data will be stored forever, but they may not be entirely aware of what that means, but I guess that's the tricky balance, the data isn't any good if they don't behave normally, but then they might not behave normally if you for every text message you insert one reminding them this call is all being recorded.

As per TFA "Underwood got a Federal Certificate of Confidentiality from the NIH, exempting the researchers from having to report any discussion of crimes to authorities. But her team is required to monitor the database for talk of suicide or abuse. On a weekly basis, they do a search with a long list of words, including rape, kill myself, or older man. They’ve had to intervene fewer than 5 times, says Underwood."

Now obviously the researcher in question is a bit naive about just what a public dump of the data could reveal, but then you'd never know any of the stuff this data can tell you without being able to get it.

Re:I have a better idea (3, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737087)

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

Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (-1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736651)

I see a multi-million dollar lawsuit in their future. Spying on people's private data w/o their knowledge sounds like a wet dream for a civil class-action lawyer.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736747)

It's not without their knowledge. According to TFA, they meet back up to sign thorough consent forms with their parents each year. It's just not in the front of their minds all the time. (Or, at least, that's the hope.)

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736835)

Additionally, in Texas (where the study took place), only one party has to consent to the recording.

So long as a wire, oral, or electronic communication—including the radio portion of any cordless telephone call—is not recorded for a criminal or tortious purpose, anyone who is a party to the communication, or who has the consent of a party, can lawfully record the communication and disclose its contents.

Texas Penal Code 16.02.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736819)

I see a multi-million dollar lawsuit in their future. Spying on people's private data w/o their knowledge sounds like a wet dream for a civil class-action lawyer.

The fuck? I'll let you read THE SUMMARY again... And this time, pay close attention to:

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.'

Yes. CLEARLY they have no idea the BlackBerry they got for free in exchange for being monitored is being monitored.

Also, check out 'one party consent'. KTHXBYE.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

FreshlyShornBalls (849004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736821)

I see a multi-million dollar lawsuit in their future. Spying on people's private data w/o their knowledge sounds like a wet dream for a civil class-action lawyer.

Did you read the article? Oh....wait....this is Slashdot. Anyway, the private data capturing was NOT w/o their knowledge. It was part of what they agreed to in order to receive a free phone, data plan and unlimited texting.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (2)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737001)

Not only did he not read TFA.

GP didn't even read TFS.

Honestly, I don't see how this can be illegal. It's no worse than owning a credit card, being part of a shopping rewards program, or having a facebook profile.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737071)

I didn't see any place in the summary where it said teens consent to having all their phone data recorded. Maybe I skimmed too fast.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737391)

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.'

They know it's going on, at the very least, and they seem to be fine with it...

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737199)

Just re-read the summary. It says nowhere about the teens consenting to being recorded.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737399)

Then you are blind.

 

The researchers don't 'directly ask' the teens about privacy issues because they don't want to remind them they're being monitored.

Right there, "remind", as in bring up again. Or would you like to argue that the fact that the teens were informed about being monitored, yet still chose to use the phones, does not constitute consent?

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737745)

"The researchers don't 'directly ask' the teens about privacy issues because they don't want to remind them they're being monitored ."

"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 [consented]."

Emphasis and editing mine.

In the first quote, in order to remind them that they are being monitored, they first have to be informed that they're being monitored.

In the second quote, it makes it clear that the monitoring was done by consent.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736851)

Think less "without their knowledge" and more "without constantly reminding them what they were told in the beginning"

Sounds like you just won the stupid lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736903)

With just a bit of Googling about the project and IRB approval, you would see that your statements are incredibly ridiculous and that there is no chance that lawsuit would be filed and allowed to proceed, provided the researchers conducting the study abide by the terms they put forward in the agreement with these minors/their parents and as long as they are not breaking the law, coercing them to continue, etc.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736915)

NOTHING is private anymore period. Just simple as that.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736989)

Doesn't apply to the Government or the Corporate CEOs who have bought it.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737223)

Of course not they are the ones with your private info.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736925)

learn to read you freakin' egg head.

Re:Sounds like the teens just won the lottery (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737029)

What's without their knowledge? Every year they have to discuss exactly how this goes, and they are using the tracking tools that are legally used on employees as per SEC rules. It's in TFA.

Poor kids! (1)

Sensi (64510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736673)

They have to be the coolest kids in school still using an 8730e.

After this study the RIM marketshare is going to drop immensely.

US Government response (5, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736675)

US Government response to their measly $3.4 million dollar program monitoring a tiny fraction of the entire country, as they fire up their $3.4 trillion dollar system...

"Amateurs. You call THAT monitoring? Please..."

It's really amazing the things that can be built when someone else is paying for it...

Re:US Government response (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736893)

Assuming costs increase proportional to the number of people being monitored, $3.4 trillion would pay for monitoring 175 million people - it's also probably safe to assume that even though it's the government, the scale is large enough that the cost per person would go down somewhat. So in the end, your $3.4 trillion estimation is probably spot on for a government monitoring program of the United States' roughly 310 million citizens (including the too young, the too old and the too ill).

Re:US Government response (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737911)

Well, no.

Economies of scale aside (which would imply order of magnitude 10x gains rather than a 2x gain for the population of this country), you also have to keep in mind that the U.S. Government isn't supplying all of us with top of the line (Remember: 4 years ago, and teens have to be willing to use them) cell phones for 4 years.

And even then, if you do the math, it was a pretty big waste of money just for these 175 teens.

In short, the bigger you go, the more money you blow when it comes to the government and how it does its funding.

And I thought the Blackberry was a leash before... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736701)

I used to always think of the Blackberry as a leash watching co-workers that had them. But this takes it to the next level:

When teens have run away from home, the researchers have contacted them on their Blackberries at the behest of their parents, reminding them that "continued access to the Blackberry depends on their parents' continuing to give consent" All runaways have returned home."

Whoa!

It makes you wonder if phase 2 would be something like "we also have the ability to send every SMS from the last two months to your parents".

Re:And I thought the Blackberry was a leash before (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736837)

Why would they care if they had run away from home?

Re:And I thought the Blackberry was a leash before (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737483)

Most runaway teens eventually return home, so this isn't surprising at all.

Re:And I thought the Blackberry was a leash before (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737763)

Sure, the result isn't - but the attempt to use the free blackberry plan as a lure back is pretty novel.

Don't worry? (2)

WhatAreYouDoingHere (2458602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736741)

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.'"

Um.. looks like that one slipped out, somehow.

Re:Don't worry? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737453)

It's simple,. why don't people understand it?
YOu ahve the researcher and the database

You have teen A with one of the devices.
You have teen B with a different device
teen B sends a text to Teen A about drugs.

Teen A responds with the watch out message.

The researchers never replied. They didn't tell anyone.

Blackberry photo logging? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736777)

I'm curious how they did that, the native software from Research In Motion doesn't have an option to log photos.

I presume it's with some spyware, but I'd like to know which.

Ha ha ha, privacy. (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736781)

Ha ha ha, privacy.

That's really all I have to say. Slashdot wanted more text though so here it is.

Obviously they are telling people (1)

harl (84412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736801)

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.'"

That proves they are telling people.

Re:Obviously they are telling people (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737403)

no, that proves that the person reply to the text told someone.

there are zero (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736809)

legal or ethical issues here. corporations do not "directly" ask customers about privacy issues either, instead they just bury them in a sarcophagus of TOS, EULA, Third-Party Licensing egreements, and that long triplicate contract we all sign for cellphone endentured servitude. telecommunications corporations lathed and lacquered the bed upon which customers get fucked, quite some time ago. reacting with consternation to any "violations" you may experience at this point should be a laughable endeavor worthy of public shaming.

Re:there are zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736919)

Some states require that both parties be away of any wiretap/recoding being done on a communication. If that law applies to text messages, there are potential legal issues here.

I wonder what the kids will think after all the data gets leaked sometime after the study ends and the researchers start distributing the data for others to study.

It's worth reading the article (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736861)

For gems such as this:

"I'm sure you could write at least 69 academic papers about sexual behavior based on sexts alone. But the academics have written just one paper thus far, mainly focused on their techniques."

Re:It's worth reading the article (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737063)

I agree with the gist of the quote, this dataset is a vast goldmine. I assume you are tickled because you read it as:

I'm sure you could write academic "69" papers about sexual behavior based on sexts alone.

Does it bother anyone else? (1)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736913)

Does it bother anyone else that, they obtained a waiver to exempt them from reporting ALL illegal activity except for two keywords, which they decided they MUST search for to fulfil legal requirements.

Those keywords were "rape" and "older man".

Really? WTF?

Our society's priorities are fucked.

Re:Does it bother anyone else? (2)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736991)

That's your criteria for deciding our priorities are fucked?

How about wasting 3.4 million dollar to study this crap in the first place?

Re:Does it bother anyone else? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737295)

Bad and sexist priorities.

Re:Does it bother anyone else? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737519)

Reporting "older man" is pretty silly, but reporting "rape" makes sense to me. 50% isn't bad when you're talking about the US legal system.

no privacy issues here (3, Insightful)

Shooter6947 (148693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39736935)

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

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

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

Re:no privacy issues here (1)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737605)

I think the problem lies with the headline for the article:
"UT Dallas Professor Captures the Mobile Interactions of 175 Texas Teens"

Makes it sound like the Professor built some sort of tower and/or monitoring device and took the information against the will/knowledge of the Blackberry recipient.

A better (truthful?) headline would have read:
"UT Dallas Professor Studies the Mobile Interactions of 175 Texas Teens"

Consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736951)

LOL. For those of your worrying about this, the governemtn has been monitoring your activities for years without your consent. LOL

wow bad summary. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39736957)

These phones were given to 6th graders, with parental consent for a long term study to monitor the behavior of teens on phone as they age.
There is nothing dirty here. You give someone a black berry, tell them you are going to track everything about it and anonymize out PII (both phone users
AND people they are contacting)
Sounds like science experiment to me.

Re:wow bad summary. (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737095)

Aw, you're spoiling it for all the shallow-thinking whiners who aren't paying attention. Frankly, I would love to have a copy of the dataset. Think of the AI chatbot you could build based on the texts alone...

Re:wow bad summary. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737989)

Think of the AI chatbot you could build based on the texts alone...

A chatbot based on the truncated simperings of adolescent narcissists? That's not curious, it's terrifying...

"So, like, OMG, like, I said, like, WTF, and he was all, like, LOL, so I was all like, TLDR, and he was all, like, BRB, so I was all, like, BTWIRLSK8BCDCRCTLA!!!!"


God help us...

Re:wow bad summary. (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39738197)

Think of it, though. A chatbot communicating with potentially millions of adolescents. Learning even more from them. Talking to them. Getting through to them like no adult could ever imagine. Convincing them of things. Leveraging them. Wielding them.

Re:wow bad summary. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39738315)

Think of it, though. A chatbot communicating with potentially millions of adolescents. Learning even more from them. Talking to them. Getting through to them like no adult could ever imagine. Convincing them of things. Leveraging them. Wielding them.

You know, if you're trying to make it sound less terrifying, you're not doing a very good job...

On the other hand, you've given me a great idea for a short story...

By the time they're in college... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39737039)

...Facebook will be passe'.

Hmmm ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737081)

Can a bunch of teenagers legally sign up for something like this?

They can't sign contracts, and they're legally too young to truly be able to consent to something like this. And who knows if their parents truly understand the ramifications of this.

This sounds like it might be in a very grey area, if not outright questionable. Definitely on the creepy side to me.

Re:Hmmm ... (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39738265)

  • a) their parents consent since they are minors
  • b) beware of aligning your creepiness criteria with commercial mass media standards

There are vastly creepier and more exploitative things going on than this. War, financial scams, commercially promoted diabetogenic eating habits, deceitful demagoguery for every political persuasion, etc.

Nice attampte (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737349)

at fear mongering and trying to create an issue.

The teen know they are being monitored,
And it's research so it's no legally in issue.

Soon to be published .... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737413)

.... 175 ways of texting: "Titis or STFU".

The only issue I have is this: (1)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737501)

âoeWe look at conversations about sex but we donâ(TM)t open photos for obvious reasons. For all the texting, Iâ(TM)m not sure how much sex stuff theyâ(TM)re actually doing. But weâ(TM)ll ask them in interviews.â

Sticking your head in the sand does not protect you. The images are still there and as TFA brings up, creates the issue of having possible child porn in possession. I'd really like to know how they got around that, and what agreements were made to (presumably) bend the laws to allow it.

Really? BB? (2)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737553)

This study should have really been looking at the psychological impact of teens being forced to use BB devices and how they will end up being scarred for life from the ridicule and bullying for not using an iPhone or Android smartphone.

That large funding must really have helped a lot to bribe those teens to use a BlackBerry in the first place...

I can only think of the SouthPark episode (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39737929)

The Toilet Safety Administration... With the guy... and the lotion... squishahshiquisha... prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt ...... prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt .......... squishahshiquisha

That episode has made this story completely irrelevant to me as I can only think about a guy in that position... gross...

$3.4M here, $3.4M there (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39738213)

And pretty soon you're talking about real money. My kids are going to have to pay back $3.4M + interest for this study. Stupid.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>