Child-Safety Software Secretly Records Kids' IM Conversations, Sells Them to Marketers

If you buy software to protect your kids from the scary parts of the internet, you should be careful that it's not spying on their private conversations for profit. Because that's exactly what they've been doing.

Software sold under the Sentry and FamilySafe brands can read private chats conducted through Yahoo, MSN, AOL and other services, and send back data on what kids are saying about such things as movies, music or video games. The information is then offered to businesses seeking ways to tailor their marketing messages to kids.

"This scares me more than anything I have seen using monitoring technology," said Parry Aftab, a child-safety advocate. "You don't put children's personal information at risk..."

EchoMetrix, formerly known as SearchHelp, said companies that have tested the chat data using Pulse include News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting and Dreamworks SKG Inc. Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures recently signed on.

Well, that's about as scummy as you can possibly get. Selling IM transcripts of children? This feels like it's got to be illegal, doesn't it? In any case, it's another reason to personally monitor your kid's internet usage rather than leaving it in the hands of some questionable software. [AP via Boing Boing]