Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Child Protection Software

Something of a hiatus, been busy with the book, formalising a major company's privacy policies and a side order of Clojure programming (see next post). All-in-all, busy. However I just want to turn to some experiences with software for child proofing a computer, or a tablet if you prefer. Protecting children from all the nasties of the Internet seems to be quite a moral crusade by some. Massive investments in filtering and censorship software and schemes seem to take precedence over good old-fashioned education - you know, that thing parents are supposed to do?

I've been working through some of these systems for child protection, ostensibly running on Android. Generally they all suck badly making the device almost impossible to use and administer and causing more headaches for the parents...just a general observation from asking many on the subject, including a few child protection experts.

One thing particularly struck me about some of the software for this kind of protection, they all seem to be gathering an awful lot of information about the child, either through reporting back statistics (including location) or by acting as proxies to content. In the latter case you are also at the mercy of the protection software provider with regards to what they're filtering.

One system asked me to register with a huge amount of personal details: my details, partner details, email addresses, the childrens' details, addresses, dates of birth, gender, preferences, interests, hobbies etc (marketers' dream), and then informed my through an extraordinarily lengthy terms and condition and privacy policy that they would collect the location of the tablet/phone/computer each time the software was activated, shut down, used. Finally they topped this off with a statement about how some data would be `anonymously' used by (unnamed) 3rd party companies for providing a better service.

Suffice to say I didn't install it and reverted to supervision, education and being a parent.

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