NY Attorney General: Agreement Stops “Echometrix” From Selling Children’s Private Online Conversations To Marketers
Last year, the Associated Press reported that EchoMetrix Inc.’s Sentry and FamilySafe software, sold to allow parents to monitor kids’ online activities, can “read private chats conducted through Yahoo, MSN, AOL and other services, and send that data back to the company. The information is then offered to businesses seeking ways to tailor their marketing messages to kids.” There was public resistance to the practice and people began looking into the company’s products.
Now, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announces that the state has negotiated “a settlement that stops the software company Echometrix from gathering information from children’s private online conversations and offering it to paying marketers.” The press release said:
In June 2009, Echometrix began offering a program to companies called “Pulse” that used its Internet monitoring software to secretly collect and analyze portions of children’s private online instant messaging conversations. Pulse was marketed as a way for third party companies to get insight into what children privately said about products and services. Echometrix did not disclose to parents and guardians that its Internet monitoring programs were collecting and analyzing children’s conversations for marketing purposes. […]
Under the settlement, Echometrix has agreed that it will not analyze or share with third parties any private communications, information, or online activity to which they have access. Echometrix will also pay a $100,000 penalty to the State of New York. Echometrix, which cooperated with the Attorney General’s office, ceased offering the Pulse product after the Attorney General commenced his investigation.
Parry Aftab, a nationally renowned lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security law and founder of wiredsafety.org, said, “This is an exceptional case where a company claiming they were providing child protection technologies used those technologies to invade their privacy instead. No company should sacrifice a child’s privacy for their personal profit.