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Microsoft Puts Police Link on Messenger

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the land-of-false-positives dept.

253

SirClicksalot writes "Microsoft is working together with the UK Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre to help protect Windows Live Messenger Users. UK users will be able to report suspected sexual predators directly to the police. From the article: 'Microsoft will add a "report abuse" icon to Messenger that will link any users worried about their anonymous internet buddies directly to online police services. Set up earlier this year to provide a single point of contact for the public, law enforcers and the communications industry to report the targeting of children online, CEOP offers advice and information to parents and potential victims of abuse and works with police forces around the world to protect children.'"

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abuse (5, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | about 8 years ago | (#15965557)

Microsoft is working together with the UK Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre to help protect Windows Live Messenger Users. UK users will be able to report suspected sexual predators directly to the police.

Oh yeah, I can't see this being abused at all. Especially by teenagers just screwing around.

Re:abuse (3, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 8 years ago | (#15965579)

Oh yeah, I can't see this being abused at all. Especially by teenagers just screwing around.

Damn straight. We're going to see a story about the dossing of Britains online police services before the dupe of this story appears. (imagine a lol, I'm not a sexual predator [slashdot.org] worm)

Re:abuse (5, Interesting)

bwthomas (796211) | about 8 years ago | (#15965694)

In the US we have something called 'filing a false police report' or something similar, and as i recall it actually has some pretty scary consequences associated with it, all things considered. It would stand to reason that the UK has something analogous.

Re:abuse (5, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 8 years ago | (#15965723)

something called 'filing a false police report' or something similar, and as i recall it actually has some pretty scary consequences associated with it

I don't think a worm (or someone prepared to make one) is going to be afraid of the consequences, regardless of the jurisdiction.

Re:abuse (2, Funny)

bwthomas (796211) | about 8 years ago | (#15965918)

Yeay, that comment was supposed to be in response to this comment [slashdot.org] , rather than the one it's parented by currently; i probably clicked on the wrong link, but i choose to blame the slashdot moderators.

stupid moderators <grumble, grumble, grumble ... >

Re:abuse (5, Informative)

56ker (566853) | about 8 years ago | (#15965714)

IANAL but,:-

"
Wasting police time - section 5(2) Criminal Law Act 1967

(Archbold 28-224)

The offence of wasting police time is committed when a person

        * causes any wasteful employment of the police by
        * knowingly making to any person a false report orally or in writing tending to:
        * show that an offence has been committed; or,
        * give rise to apprehension for the safety of any persons or property; or,
        * show that he has information material to any police inquiry.

It is a summary only offence carrying a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and/or a level 4 fine.

The public interest will favour a prosecution in any one of the following circumstances:-

        * police resources have been diverted for a significant period (for example 10 hours);
        * a substantial cost is incurred, for example a police helicopter is used or an expensive scientific examination undertaken;
        * when the false report is particularly grave or malicious;
        * considerable distress is caused to a person by the report;
        * the accused knew, or ought to have known, that police resources were under particular strain or diverted from a particularly serious inquiry;
        * there is significant premeditation in the making of the report;
        * the report is persisted in, particularly in the face of challenge.

"

Just in case you were wondering a level 4 fine is £2500.

That's from the Crown Prosecution Service's website. [cps.gov.uk]

Tried as an adult or juvenile? (1)

khasim (1285) | about 8 years ago | (#15965791)

Remember, the majority of these reports will probably be coming from teen and pre-teens.

In the US, there are differences in how we handle crimes committed by adults and those same crimes committed by juveniles.

Re:abuse (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 8 years ago | (#15965851)

Aaaah, yes, the summary offense of wasting police time - why, since that law was introduced, we've had no teenagers wasting police time or worm writtens.... how many years has it been? oh wait.... :-)

Re:abuse (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 years ago | (#15965947)

And when they have a million reports from varies kiosks, internet cafes, and people out of the country?

When there is a worm causing false reports?

Re:abuse (2, Funny)

evil_Tak (964978) | about 8 years ago | (#15965960)

Does this mean you can report the policemen for wasting police time? Sounds like a golden opportunity to me.

Re:abuse (1)

kinglink (195330) | about 8 years ago | (#15966062)

IANAL but Microsoft isn't the police.... yet.

Re:abuse (4, Interesting)

niceone (992278) | about 8 years ago | (#15965605)

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out - isn't there are crime called "wasting police time" or something? Can you be prosecuted for clicking that icon without good cause?

E-cuse (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 8 years ago | (#15965686)

Sure, but who knows what information they'll glean from people that have been falsely e-cused? Through the course of the investigation, who knows what they could dig up for charges.

Do you have encyclopedic knowledge of all laws in all jursidictions and the details of all precedent-setting cases under every one?

Are you certain you have nothing to hide?

Re:abuse (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15965727)

Not prosecuted but you can be charged for the cost caused to the Police.

Re:abuse (2, Informative)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | about 8 years ago | (#15965734)

Yes, there is a law called just that -

Section :5
Sub-Section :2
Act :Criminal Law Act 1967
Subject :Wasting Police Time Or Giving False Report
It is an offence to waste Police Time or to give a false report.

Fixed Penalty Amount :80.00
Method of Trial :Summarily

http://www.police-law.co.uk/law/policelaw.nsf/1649 e8496940e5e380256ba8006061d3/b14a0b225311b86e80256 db300697bbc!OpenDocument [police-law.co.uk]

Re:abuse (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | about 8 years ago | (#15965754)

Just to clarify, that 80.00 is 80 pounds. The icon on the other site wasn't the ASCII code, rather a little gif.

Re:abuse (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 8 years ago | (#15965782)

More importantly, can you be prosecuted when a piece of malware 'clicks' the button?

Re:abuse (1)

grammar fascist (239789) | about 8 years ago | (#15965928)

More importantly, can you be prosecuted when a piece of malware 'clicks' the button?

Can they prove it was you rather than malware?

In Britain, would you have to prove it was malware?

Re:abuse (3, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | about 8 years ago | (#15965930)

More importantly, can you be prosecuted when a piece of malware 'clicks' the button?

And its best if you're using wifi, and you've covered yourself (and your IP address) by turning off security. As the recent case showed, with an open access point, you can simply say "It wasn't me; it could have been any neighbor using my wireless" and the prosecution won't have much an argument, because you'll be telling the literal truth.

At least here in the US, almost everyone has just a single IP address for everything past their modem, so everything using your wifi will have the same address, and there's no way at all to prove which of the many computers in the neighborhood may have clicked that button.

If you're on an open wireless AP, you can accuse as many people you want of as many crimes as you want, and nobody can prove it was you.

Re:abuse (1)

maxume (22995) | about 8 years ago | (#15965810)

They have to set the bar for 'with good cause' low enough that people aren't afraid too push the button when they are suspicious of someone.

It still seems like a horrible idea, it either won't get used, or it will get used too much and ignored by the police.

Scary! (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 8 years ago | (#15965916)

Can you be prosecuted for clicking that icon without good cause?

That's a scary thought. I certainly wouldn't use any software in which accidentally clicking the wrong button calls the police!

Re:abuse (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#15965998)

> Isn't there are crime called "wasting police time" or something?

Yeah, except in my experience they tend to waste my time. And recently, Boy George was accused of wasting police time and had to do some gardening or something, with about 20 police taking time off real work to protect him from fans and photographers. I think that's what's called the punishment fitting the crime.

Re:abuse (1)

Cursive23 (850067) | about 8 years ago | (#15965607)

Awesome! Now I have a new way to give Agent Richard Gill the run around! Time to one up AcId BuRn and win the bet!

Re:abuse (1)

avronius (689343) | about 8 years ago | (#15965611)

Yes officer, that was 'User 956'.
And I'm not just calling because he beacause he fragged me...

Simpsons? What? (2, Funny)

Lord Prox (521892) | about 8 years ago | (#15965630)

I think someone has watched too many episodes of the Simpsons and thought the Springfield Online Police Report was a good idea.

Bless The Simpsons [i-bless.com]

Re:abuse (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15965841)

> Oh yeah, I can't see this being abused at all. Especially by teenagers just screwing around.

Well, that is the problem, isn't it? (Can't you sickos stop thinking of the children for a bit? :)

Re:abuse (1)

Brigadier (12956) | about 8 years ago | (#15965866)



I'm sure the users name address and info will be submitted to the enforcement agency and will pop up when the officer responds and given most law i'm sure anyone who plays with the option will find them self on the sticky side of the law.

Re:abuse - protected by AI (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 8 years ago | (#15965880)

Oh yeah, I can't see this being abused at all. Especially by teenagers just screwing around.
No we can't trust the teenagers to do this properly. The will screw around with it, either out of ignorance, or just for kicks. Protecting the children is too important to be left up to them, so expect to see new software that scans incoming and outgoing streams for certain words, then makes the online report itself.
Initially, such software will be optional.

[/sarcasm]

Re:abuse (1)

AgentDib (931969) | about 8 years ago | (#15965898)

To be fair, kids in the US also know they can contact emergency personnel by simply dialing "911" at any phone. There are prank 911 calls now and then but that hardly makes the service a poor idea.

Hmm (2, Interesting)

Klaidas (981300) | about 8 years ago | (#15965580)

This is a good idea, But... how many false alarms will there be? If every alarm has to be investigated, there will be a lot of wasted time.
Besides, we all know how kids like clicking everywhere.

Re:Hmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965753)

there will be a lot of wasted time

No investigation is a waste of time, Citizen. Not when we want to know everything we can know about everyone. For the Future of course. Now open up for the swab. No, the anal swab.

Re:Hmm (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | about 8 years ago | (#15965881)

Maybe it's more of a deterrent measure. Like "BEWARE OF DOG" signs when there's really no dog, that are just meant to deter would-be burlars. So maybe the police won't investigate every alarm, but the existence of the alarm cuts down on the offenders.

In any case, there might be a threshold (e.g. N complaints against a particular user, where N = 5, 10, or whatever) that must be reached before an investigation is actually commenced.

Re:Hmm (1)

pacalis (970205) | about 8 years ago | (#15966022)

I think this is an awesome idea. First, I doubt that most complaints will be investigated. As with most complaints police receive, there will be a distribution of compliants and only the top few will be seriously investigated. Second, my bet is that this will long term cache flagged coversations (avoids invasion of privacy as not third party), creating a pattern of evidence. Awesome idea.

Cool but... (1)

the2cheat (986144) | about 8 years ago | (#15965585)

Sure, this is a neat feature, and it can be very usefull. But I am concerned that it is open for abuse. I'm sure there are safeguards in place, but anyone could easily report someone as a prank or a younger could accidentally click the little button. It probably just means your IM logs get a quick glance, but still...

direct to police?! (5, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | about 8 years ago | (#15965587)

One of the most convenient ways of destroying someone's life forever is to hint that they're a pedd-o to the police. One of the least credible sources of information is through chat and blog and instant message internet services. This sounds like a great way to completely twist the whole of society tightly around the axle for years to come.

Re:direct to police?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965909)

One of the most convenient ways of destroying someone's life forever is to hint that they're a pedd-o to the police. One of the least credible sources of information is through chat and blog and instant message internet services. This sounds like a great way to completely twist the whole of society tightly around the axle for years to come.


Exactly, this will be the kiss of death for the MSN messenger in the UK. Good riddance. Messenger ought to start making malware lists pretty damn quick.

Parents need to supervise their children themselves and stop passing the buck.

And MSN needs to do something about its reputation as teen sex chat. I think the poice should be taking a good hard look at MSN itself.

predator detection (3, Insightful)

flidigital (997364) | about 8 years ago | (#15965592)

Microsoft and everyone else has more important things to do than build 'predator features' into their software.

Logging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965595)

What happens when you press the button? Does it send a log to the police or can they view the messages being sent between two people from that point on?

I Foresee Great Uselessness (3, Insightful)

Oddster (628633) | about 8 years ago | (#15965600)

Anybody else greatly reminded of the Warning feature on AIM? No, people aren't going to screw around with this at all, everybody will be fair and sensible and only use it when justified.

Re:I Foresee Great Uselessness (1)

format1337 (957144) | about 8 years ago | (#15965766)

My friends and I used to see who could warn the other the highest the quickest, good fun.

Re:I Foresee Great Uselessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965879)

Someone sounds bitter...

I can imagine it... (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 8 years ago | (#15965601)

LilJen1992 says:
__OMG LIEK TEHER IS SUM RILLY CREPY CHAP TAH WANTS ME TO ... UGHGHGHGH!!!!11
Constable Nigel says:
__4 ril?
LilJen1992 says:
__Yeh he is so grss!!!1
Constable Nigel says:
__kk jess gimme his s/n

Re:I can imagine it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965822)

/me wonders why a 24 year old can't take care of herself... :-/

Re:I can imagine it... (2, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 8 years ago | (#15965842)

/me wonders why a 24 year old can't take care of herself
 
/me wonders why 2006 minus 1992 is 24 rather than 14

Re:I can imagine it... (1)

servognome (738846) | about 8 years ago | (#15965995)

/me wonders why 2006 minus 1992 is 24 rather than 14

We're talking about IM, all girls claim to be 14.

Re:I can imagine it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966033)

We're talking about IM, all girls claim to be 14.

and where the 56-year old men claim to be girls of 14 too.

Re:I can imagine it... (2, Funny)

format1337 (957144) | about 8 years ago | (#15965844)

2006 - 1992 = 14
i think

Re:I can imagine it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965964)

She needs a big brute of an ox like you to take care of her.

Re:I can imagine it... (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15965886)

LilJen1992 says:
__OMG LIEK TEHER IS SUM RILLY CREPY CHAP TAH WANTS ME TO ... UGHGHGHGH!!!!11
Constable Nigel says:
__4 ril?
LilJen1992 says:
__Yeh he is so grss!!!1
Constable Nigel says:
__kk jess gimme his s/n

LilJen1992 says:
__kk its 111-111-111 plz kick hiz ass 4 me.

Constable Nigel says:
__aight i put on my uniform and bobby hat.

LilJen1992 says:
__What the f*ck, again?

Constable Nigel says:
__damn I still gotta write down your names or something.

Good idea - and tough to abuse (2, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | about 8 years ago | (#15965623)

Some people here have been saying "what about the abuse" well seeing as they will know who is reporting the abuse then if you are just pratting about then those same police who are looking for predators can also send a threating response for wasting police time (a punishable offence). Unlike making crank calls from a telephone box this is very traceable.

Good idea, and well done Microsoft.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965679)

You Sir are an Idiot.

Try to explain THAT to a 13 yo who is pissed off at his/her friend/teacher/whatever.

There WILL be abuse and while it's always nice to 'think of the children' this is the most idiotic feature I ever seen in a piece of software.

Making calls is not traceable? Where do you leave?

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (2, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 8 years ago | (#15965708)

Pretty much what I was thinking too -- besides, many countries have youth offence acts so if a child falsely accuses an adult, the adult has the potential to lose their entire livelihood not to mention ruin their lives and the child gets a slap on the wrist. This needs severe caution.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1)

taskforce (866056) | about 8 years ago | (#15965706)

I'm assuming you've never heard of a proxy server? MSN has support for these.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1)

format1337 (957144) | about 8 years ago | (#15965823)

seeing as they will know who is reporting the abuse then if you are just pratting about then those same police who are looking for predators can also send a threating response for wasting police time (a punishable offence).
Not before they have seized the computer, tore apart the house, question the neighbours and coworkers of the possible pedophile.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 8 years ago | (#15965857)

I guess it's easy enough to detect for repeat offenders or people making the wildest claims, but what about a user that hasn't reported anyone else in the past and suddenly reports someone at school for being pissed at him. While it's a punishable offense, that doesn't stop the police from having to spend resources on it since they can't just dismiss it. Now take enough users doing this (you just need a fraction of a percent for a few million users) and I think it's easy to see the problems.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 8 years ago | (#15965867)

Sorry, meant "*of* a few million users", not "for". Damn prepositions!

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | about 8 years ago | (#15965989)

I assumed that the button would send user info for both sides, as well as a transcript of the conversation, so that the officer/investigator could evaluate the case and make a good preliminary determination. You wouldn't be able to just "press the button" and report someone by their e-mail address.

The way I'd work it would be to have the aforementioned info sent, then have the police quickly follow up with a quick e-mail message to the accusing party with something like "If you really meant to send this, click here to confirm" (like signing up to some mailing lists). Only after the sender confirmed the submission would it actually be delivered to some appropriate inbox.

Might also be a good idea to send e-mail to the accused, too, to let them know what's coming down.

Re:Good idea - and tough to abuse (2, Interesting)

Cal Paterson (881180) | about 8 years ago | (#15965910)

Some people here have been saying "what about the abuse" well seeing as they will know who is reporting the abuse then if you are just pratting about then those same police who are looking for predators can also send a threating response for wasting police time (a punishable offence). Unlike making crank calls from a telephone box this is very traceable.

Except that emails aren't traceable. At all. Especially the throwaway ones on things like dodgeit.com. You should be concerned about the abuse.

my worm doesn't care (1)

Frightening (976489) | about 8 years ago | (#15965978)

those same police who are looking for predators can also send a threating response for wasting police time

What if your computer is pwned? Will the police send a threat to my worm? Or will they sue me for having a worm, which is something I don't want anyway? And what about hijacked accounts and spoofed IP addresses?

Please understand that defending any MS decision to do anything other than shut-down (which is their software's hallmark) is dangerous because you are wasting geek time. Thank you for your cooperation.

And This Works How? (4, Interesting)

nbannerman (974715) | about 8 years ago | (#15965628)

I have three seperate accounts I use to log into MSN Messenger's services, via passport.

Only one of them contains any personal information about me. The other two, which are in use most often, are full of completely bogus information.

Hypothetically speaking, where exactly would any online 'police service' get in such a situation? I think this has the potential to be a good idea, but I'm curious to see how many resources are going to be thrown behind this, given how easy it is to enter completely false data from the word go.

Re:And This Works How? (4, Insightful)

Azarael (896715) | about 8 years ago | (#15965687)

Because M$ could send them your ip as well. If they keep any kind of logs of which IP you generally access MSN from, they could do at least as good of a job as the RIAA does (lucky you). Unless you always use a good proxy, there is a pretty good chance they could figure out who you are, if they tried.

Re:And This Works How? (1)

nbannerman (974715) | about 8 years ago | (#15965763)

Well, I have to admit, after my initial posting, I did have a think about IP addresses. The problem, as I see it, is that I don't take any massive steps to cover my IP address or hide. But, if I wanted to, I could get round having the IP address linked to me.

Hell, with wi-fi spreading around in an unsecured state (I get 4 networks in my bedroom), it is entirely possible to have an online life without ever getting connected using your own phone line / cable.

I'm a techy, and I tend to think of technical solutions to problems. But here the technology is introducing a huge swathe of problems right from the start. I welcome any proactive attempts to deal with problems, but I'm dubious if this system will bring real results.

Re:And This Works How? (1)

vidarh (309115) | about 8 years ago | (#15965688)

If there's any real indication that you might have broken the law, they'd get your home address by getting a court order for your ISP to reveal who was logged in via a certain IP address at a certain time.

Re:And This Works How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965698)

>Only one of them contains any personal information about me. The other two, which are in use most often, are full of completely
>bogus information.

They have your IP address, and they only need to subpoena your ISP to find out who you really are.

(I would doubt that most people browse behind a proxy.)

Re:And This Works How? (1)

Vancorps (746090) | about 8 years ago | (#15965700)

They only need your name on an IM network. Then they can set traps for you. They don't need to identity you right away. Just pretend they are kid and wait for the creep to pounce on you. From there you can show him some pictures on your website which will of course capture the IP address of his machine at the time. Being still in the conversation that leaves ample time to get personal information from the ISP of the predator in question.

At first I thought this was a terrible idea because of possible abuse but then I realized that you're not allow to waste police time and resources so hitting the abuse button is something you only do when you're sure. The problem is defining when you're sure and when you're wasting time of law enforcement.

Re:And This Works How? (1)

nbannerman (974715) | about 8 years ago | (#15965731)

Just pretend they are kid and wait for the creep to pounce on you.

Certainly an interesting way of dealing with the situation, but wouldn't this be covered by entrapment? Not that I'm meaning to sound dismissive, but baiting a trap is normally frowned upon.

Re:And This Works How? (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | about 8 years ago | (#15965784)

Certainly an interesting way of dealing with the situation, but wouldn't this be covered by entrapment?

Only if the officer pretending to be a 12 year old offers up the child porn. Usually they just pretend to be an "outgoing/open minded" 12 year old, and eventually the pedo makes the arrestable request. A meeting is then set up, and the pedo walks right into the officer's hands.

I heard of one pedo who was so dumb, they got him to show up at the police station to recieve his promised pictures...

Re:And This Works How? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15965792)

Generally, but since the population so despises these people, that fact is summarily ignored every time.

Re:And This Works How? (1)

kirun (658684) | about 8 years ago | (#15965843)

It all depends how it's done. The police can't secretly encourage somebody to commit crime, then arrest them for it. What they can do is set up traps in high-crime areas and catch the perpetrators. For example, leave mobile phone on car seat, hide in bushes. When the local phone thief walks past and smashes the window, pop out and arrest him. Similarly, forces operate capture cars (sometimes known as rat traps), left parked in areas with a problem with vehicle theft. When they're stolen, they automatically lock the doors, and notify the police, who can then pop round to collect the thief.

I'd expect setting up a predator trap would involve a somewhat larger operation [satirewire.com] .

Re:And This Works How? (1)

format1337 (957144) | about 8 years ago | (#15965932)

Happens all the time. Think of prostitution sting ops, undercover cop drives to a corner, girl talks to them, gets her to negotiate a price, whips out the badge.
This is just undercover cop on MSN instead of a car, goes into a chatroom instead of a corner, pedo talks to them, gets them to agree on meeting someplace, whips out a badge.
Pretty effective in catching them, but does not stop repeat offenders. Just as prostitutes are out on the same corner as soon as they are out of jail, the pedos are back in the same chatroom as soon as possible.

The irony of this... (2, Insightful)

Winterblink (575267) | about 8 years ago | (#15965646)

... is that it's the poor police who'll be feeling abused.

Thank goodness ! (5, Funny)

TractorBarry (788340) | about 8 years ago | (#15965657)

Well thank goodness for that.

At last someone is thinking of the children.

Re:Thank goodness ! (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | about 8 years ago | (#15965818)

At last someone is thinking of the children.

I thought that was the problem...

Wonderful waste of resources (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 8 years ago | (#15965690)

We already have ways of reporting pedophiles. You can pick up the phone, you can write a letter, or you can walk into a police station. It doesn't need to be made any easier. Why don't people do this? Because their confidence in the police is low. They think the police either won't act for lack of evidence(in which case it can be a waste of time or worse the police might acuse them of making the situation up), or the police may over-react to information given and you could ruin someone's life based on a vague suspicion.

What you need to do is increase confidence in the police by making sure they always respond appropriately to legitimate complaints. Adding a "report a pedo" form is just plain silly.

Re:Wonderful waste of resources (1)

taustin (171655) | about 8 years ago | (#15965735)

...or the police may over-react to information given and you could ruin someone's life based on a vague suspicion.

While I agree with you in general, the above isn't a problem with the police. It's a problem of idiots reporting "vague suspicions" to the police. If it is possible for the police to overreact, then you shouldn't be reporting it.

But that still makes this current idiocy a bad idea.

Re:Wonderful waste of resources (1)

endikos (195750) | about 8 years ago | (#15966002)

We already have ways of reporting pedophiles. You can pick up the phone, you can write a letter, or you can walk into a police station. It doesn't need to be made any easier.

Yeah, but those methods can't automatically flag conversation logs in Microsoft's servers. Something like this will make it much easier for police to gather necessary evidence. Additionally, there's the good chance that would-be predators will think twice before approaching anyone with ill-motivated conversation, since they *know* their conversations can easily be brought to the attention of authorities.

... or the police may over-react to information given and you could ruin someone's life based on a vague suspicion.

This is why juries exist. So that your peers can weigh the presented evidence and decide whether or not you're guilty. The police cannot "ruin someone's life" unilaterally.

"Honestly officer, I didn't know it's illegal..." (5, Funny)

Nereus (733242) | about 8 years ago | (#15965697)

From TFA:
In June, a 21-year-old media student from Surrey became the first person to be convicted of child grooming offences...
Caught in possession of a child with perfectly styled hair and dapper clothing?

Re:"Honestly officer, I didn't know it's illegal.. (4, Informative)

legoburner (702695) | about 8 years ago | (#15965800)

just in case this term has not made it across the pond yet, grooming in that context means preparing someone for an adult relationship - eg; convincing them that they want to try something which they otherwise would not have.

By who's defnition? (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 years ago | (#15965716)

So now you can rat out anyone you feel like, even when they do nothing wrong just beacuse you are an ass.

Bring down the man on them.. Good way to scare away users.

Add to /. (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 8 years ago | (#15965732)

Perhaps /. can add this kind of "feature" as a moderation?
  • +3 Funny
  • -2 Predator

Re:Add to /. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 8 years ago | (#15966043)

Funny AND a predator for a combined mod of +1? It contains one or more of the following comments...

Natalie Portman
Hot Grits
Goat.cx
GNAA
Cowboy Neil

They need more than this (5, Funny)

ScooterBill (599835) | about 8 years ago | (#15965737)

How about a button that alerts the IRS? or the SEC when someone on a stock chat room brags about something not quite legal? or the private investigator that's checking up on the housewife who seems to be having a bit too much fun online...

Re:They need more than this (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 years ago | (#15966071)

How about an app to drop a dime on anyone you suspect of doing anything illegal?
It could send logs, screen grabs, etc as desired to any/all of a menu of law enforcement agencies.
I'm not serious of course, but it's probably a matter of time until someone who is devises Stasi-at-home software.

Monty Python version (4, Funny)

Megane (129182) | about 8 years ago | (#15965780)

...you click on the button, then John Cleese appears in a London bobby's uniform. "Wot's all this, then?"

(not to be confused with the Young Ones version where Neil appears in a London bobby's uniform saying "Woah, like chill out, man.")

Re:Monty Python version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965836)

HEA-VEE man!

Based on abuse of AIM "warn" button.... (3, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | about 8 years ago | (#15965781)

This will be heavily abused by kids just messing with each other. Yeah, no one would ever click this button as a joke on their friend. Without some sort of punishment for abuse of the system by the submitter this will work the same as blanket phone wiretaps - simply increase the size of the haystack in which one is searching for a needle.

Hello Officer? This is Skynet (3, Funny)

Foofoobar (318279) | about 8 years ago | (#15965796)

Can't wait for the first messenger worm to start reporting everyone on your buddies list as sexual predators.

Yet Another Reason... (5, Insightful)

andrewd18 (989408) | about 8 years ago | (#15965805)

Yet another reason to use something other than MSN for instant messaging chat programs.
  1. Integrates with my MSN Passport so people can link my screen name to location information about me.
  2. Shows everybody the e-mail address I registered with; whee!
  3. Smileys that were beaten with the ugly stick (although not as bad as the 1990's-esque AIM smileys)
  4. Integrates with Outlook Express so that I can't turn it off if I'm e-mailing (unless I hack the registry)
  5. xxxsmgpwnagexxx and kittyluv1492 can now label me as a sexual predator with a click of a button

How will libraries & 'net cafe's track people? (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | about 8 years ago | (#15965815)

What if you've got an MSN account that you only access through libraries and other public places? Tracing the IP of the "false reporter" would only tell the police which cafe you've been to. And if it's a really busy one, and you paid in cash...

Certainly a waste of resources just to end up a dead end...

Or what about "report pedo" messages getting spammed in from zombie PCs?

Abused doesn't report abuse anyways (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15965821)

The people who are really being abused probably aren't going to report it. If they are happy to just push a button to make it stop, why don't they just sign out or block the person?

Aren't the worst cases of abuse when the target is manipulated by the abuser, so they will willing go along with it? Isn't that they -only- way someone on the interent could physically get in contact with the target for abuse? I don't see how this will stop that or even help prevent that at all.

bad idea (3, Insightful)

moxley (895517) | about 8 years ago | (#15965868)

I think that this is a horrible idea that can only serve to weaken online privacy (what little there is left), security (these days being secure to me means being protected from harassment or worse from the police state as much as being protected from normal criminals).

I think that everyone who has said that this will be abused by idiots and kids is right, for the most part - but my real problem is that this is a first step to eroding anonymity (or semi-anonymity) online, because once that button has been there for a little while, then the authorities can say - "Well, we now need every IP to be verifiably tied to an ID because online police buttons might be pushed and we can't go throught trying to figure out who all of these sceennames are."

The way this SHOULD work... (1)

SumeyDevil (906408) | about 8 years ago | (#15965882)

Given the potential for abuse, this doesn't seem like it would be that effective. What if instead: Clicking "Report Pedophile" would put that specific screenname on a watch list. Then, when that screenname enters the "14 year olds just having fun" chatroom, the watch list would signal a warning and MSN could pay *extra special* attention to that chat session, either by having someone in real life enter the chatroom, or by using software to spot specific "pedo trends." This would have the benefits of notifying someone in charge about a potential pedophile, but if your friends put you on it as a joke, you wouldn't be rammed by the cops.

Thwarted by anonymous VPNs (1)

JimBowen (885772) | about 8 years ago | (#15965885)

Surely any real predator would, in light of this, access their IM services via an anonymous VPN service [piratpartiet.se] , thus rendering the whole thing pointless. The only thing that this would get used for, as many stated earlier, is wasting police time.
Nice idea, though..

Spamming for Justice (1)

Gutspawn (997376) | about 8 years ago | (#15965941)

Is it just me, or do we have faith in our community to undermine this feature quickly enough that it's never taken seriously?

Oops (1)

jrmiller84 (927224) | about 8 years ago | (#15965956)

Hey if the cops show up, don't be alarmed. Fido accidentally jumped on the keyboard.

Chat with MSN Messenger? Who does that? (0, Troll)

Mattness (636060) | about 8 years ago | (#15966012)

As if people chat with Microsoft Messenger. It might as well have a BIG, RED, SHINY, HISTORY ERASER BUTTON.

What a catastrophe, and this is why (1)

avasol (904335) | about 8 years ago | (#15965984)

What a madly easy to reach weapon of mass destruction in the hands of vengeful, disappointed, or unloved teens......

What kind of abuse ... (1)

john.weldon (997377) | about 8 years ago | (#15966019)

What kind of abuse of this new feature even comes close to outweighing the benefits of being able to connect reported abuse to certain IP addresses individually, and probably more usefully statistically?

Sure there is potential for people to be wrongfully reported, and sure this makes it easier to do, nevertheless; more data is always better than less data when tracking down criminals.

I doubt every report would be investigated, but if there were a few reports from different users pointing to one person, that would be a data point that would not have been known previously.

If you (or I) are wrongfully reported, wouldn't the hassle of answering a few questions about your life (if it ever even came to that) far outweigh the benefits of increasing the protection of children, and even adults?

I hope it works both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966025)

I hope the cops there aggressively arrest and prosecute any minors who are masquerading as adults online, and fine their parents for allowing "abusive behavior".

Either that or they can just stop it with the big brother action and realise that parents need to take care of their kids more effectively. the internet is NOT an electronic babysitter.

Ummm, an oxymoron? (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | about 8 years ago | (#15966032)

Anyone who would be intelligent enough to report a sexual predator wouldn't meet the sexual rpedator in real life or give out personal information to begin with. The only people who are "preyed upon" are the imbeciles who are somehow convinced to have sex with a stranger over the internet. Moreover, with this kind of button, there will be SO MANY false reports/prank reports/anything reports that it will just be a huge, enormous waste of police resources, money, and time.
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