Creepy privacy invasion of the day:
“Parents who install a leading brand of software to monitor their kids’ online activities may be unwittingly allowing the company to read their children’s chat messages — and sell the marketing data gathered.
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.[…]
The software brands in question are developed by EchoMetrix Inc., a company based in Syosset, N.Y.
In June, EchoMetrix unveiled a separate data-mining service called Pulse that taps into the data gathered by Sentry software to give businesses a glimpse of youth chatter online. While other services read publicly available teen chatter, Pulse also can read private chats. It gathers information from instant messages, blogs, social networking sites, forums and chat rooms.
EchoMetrix CEO Jeff Greene said the company complies with U.S. privacy laws and does not collect any identifiable information.
“We never know the name of the kid — it’s bobby37 on the house computer,” Greene said.
What Pulse will reveal is how “bobby37″ and other teens feel about upcoming movies, computer games or clothing trends. Such information can help advertisers craft their marketing messages as buzz builds about a product.”