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A nice try, but...

I hear on the radio this morning that police in the UK, Australia and America are going to monitor internet chat-rooms, making use of the differences in their time-zones to effect 24-hour surveillance. They plan to look out for instances when people are giving out sensitive information such as addresses and phone numbers, and warn one or both parties that they shouldn't do this. There was also talk about having an icon which appears on the screen to let users know they're being monitored. A BBC news page covering the story (pretty much exactly as I heard it this morning) is here.

However, most chat rooms I've encountered incorporate a private messaging feature, by which any user in the chat room can chat privately to another user in a separate window which other users can't see. Chat rooms seem to me to be full of people who come by asking things like 'NE1 want 2 chat?': i.e. they want to find someone else within the room who's willing to have a 'proper' one-to-one chat with them, using either the private message feature attached to the chat room or something independent like ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger.

Surely these must be the main means by which paedophiles get children's addresses and / or arrange to meet up with them, and police would not be able to monitor them under the scheme that's been suggested?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC)
What an incredibly half-witted plan. Aside from the problems you mention they seem to have forgotten (yet again) about the scale of the interweb- you'd need hundreds of people just to monitor some of the more popular chatrooms, and the chances of actually seeing and stopping anything dodgy happening'd be tiny.
Jun. 9th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)
I presume the thinking is that if people know some chat sites are monitored sometimes, they might be less inclined to cruise any of them trying to pick up children. Although the stuff about having an icon which shows a room is being monitored would work against them in that case: it would mean people knew they were safe to do what they liked if the icon wasn't there.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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