An Associated Press report reveals that parental control web-monitoring software products ‘Sentry’ and ‘FamilySafe’ from the EchoMetrix company are harvesting data from kids’ online chats, This information is used to try and 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.”
I would describe this is very worrying. It shows how careful you must be when using parental control software and web based child protection services that claim to help keep kids safe and out of trouble online. If circumstances demand that you really need to monitor and check what they are getting up to then I would recommend that you use a software solution that does this on the computer locally. That way you can be sure you are not sharing very private information with unscrupulous companies who may want to sell it on.