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It’s standard advice that parents should monitor what their young children do online. For many parents, that means having the computer in a public area so they can see what’s on the screen as their kids surf the web. But some police departments are pushing a far more intrusive option: installing spyware on your computer to monitor every single keystroke your children make.
An investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that dozens of police departments around the country are distributing software called ComputerCOP. The software has two features. One is a search engine that lets parents search a computer’s hard drive for pornographic images as well as files relating to sensitive subjects such as drugs and violence. But the other is a keylogger, a program that records every key typed and sends it to a third-party server.
Police departments pay a few dollars per copy to ComputerCOP, and in return they get the software in customized packaging that prominently features the department that paid for the software.