Just when you thought keeping tabs on your kids couldn't get any more creepy.

17 January 2010

Taser has become one of the more notorious companies in the United States. Best known for it's (technically) non-lethal electrostun weapons, the name of which has become synonymous for most any stunner, they've recently gotten into the mobile surveillance market with a product they call Protector. This product is actually an app which you install in your kid's mobile phone; it lets you keep an eye on all of the phone numbers which are called or place calls to the phone as well as giving access to all text messages sent or received. Certain numbers can be blacklisted by the app, and it will even three-way your phone in so you can listen in on any voice conversations without any of the parties involved knowing about it. If a new phone number is picked up an alert will be sent to an application running on your computer or to a parent's cellphone. The phone can even be disabled for a configurable period of time, or the GPS location of the phone can be reported (assuming that the phone has such functionality). The by-subscription service will go online in the summer of 2010, with a monthly charge between $10us and $30us. Taser claims that Protector will bring old-fashioned parenting into the mobile age...

What dreck.

I'm all for old-fashioned parenting: everything from playing catch in the back yard to making sure your kids do their homework to the odd crack across the ass with a wooden spoon. Parenting involves building trust with your kids, but spying on them (with or without their knowledge) is not how you go about it. Trust is a two-way street: if you show your kids respect (which is subtly different from "respecting your kids") they will respect you in turn. If you place trust in your kids and make sure they know it they will trust you in turn. Spying on your kids (or even the threat of it looming over their heads) will not engender trust in you, it will make them resent you and they will be more inclined to hide things. In fact, it will also make them even more inventive in the methods they use to keep things from you (as kids are wont to do). It would surprise me not at all if kids start buying pre-paid cellphones (which you can get at just about any drugstore, convenience store, or supermarket cheaply) to get around this, and you can bet that hacks to disable or trick this app will start making the rounds on the Net.

(Obligatory disclaimers: I am not a parent. I am opposed to surveillance. I got my ass whooped not a few times as a kid and never did what I did to earn those beatings ever again.)