Not every software provider is engaging in the practice, but EchoMetrix Inc’s Sentry and FamilySafe brands are called out in particular. Because the software “listens” to the instant messenger conversations of kids, it’s able to package that information for marketers interested in learning of the latest trends of this young demographic. While this immediately sounds alarming, the companies claim there is no risk to the privacy of the children being monitored:
The company that sells the software insists it is not putting kids’ information at risk, since the program does not record children’s names or addresses. But the software knows how old they are because parents customize its features to be more or less permissive, depending on age.
That’s all well and good, but didn’t AOL anonymize its search data? That worked well, didn’t it?
With the software costing up to $50 a year, you’d think there wouldn’t be the need to get greedy, but with such little data available on the “under 13″ age group, marketers are willing to pay big bucks for such data.
If you’re using such a service, you should look for any option to “opt out” and always read the software’s terms and conditions carefully.
So, what do you think of this? As a marketer, are you intrigued or outraged? Parents, what say you?