PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spent $25,000 last year on software designed to help parents track what their kids do online.
The office purchased 5,000 copies of the software, ComputerCOP, and offers it to parents for free.
Earlier this year, the Nogales Police Department purchased 1,050 copies. Officer Robert Fierros said at the time the program can level the playing field between tech-savvy kids and their parents.
“It’s got a query of keywords that is going to pick up on everything in your computer, basically, but primarily emails, chat-room conversations, and any other software that’s been downloaded on the computer,” Fierros said.
But is the software really beneficial? According to Vox, ComputerCOP has two functions: One allows parents to search computers for files related to drugs, violence, pornography or other inappropriate material. The other is a keylogger that sends every thing typed to a third-party server.
While some parents may argue the software is a good idea, Vox raised two main concerns: The program does not distinguish between adults and children, meaning an adult can use it to investigate another adult’s computer, and it sends the keylog information unencrypted, meaning it could be easy for hackers to steal passwords and other information.
The software only works on laptops and desktops, which is another problem. How many kids do you know that regularly use an actual computer? Nogales Police said ComputerCOP links to other software to help parents monitor mobile devices, but we wonder how effective that actually is.
Would you use this program to check up on your kids? Does the pros of the product outweigh the cons or is it just another way to invade people’s privacy? Let us know in the comments.