Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Parents, do you believe in invading your children’s privacy?

I do, to an extent at least. I recall the motto, “give’em enough rope to hang themselves” because it allows them to learn from their mistakes.  So how about using nanny-cams and key loggers?
A nanny cam is a hidden camera in a common area of your home used to observe your children and babysitter. Some argue that if you even think about installing a nanny cam, you shouldn’t have the babysitter. You’ve got to have trust foremost. And then why not have some inside information also.
A key logger is software that tracks computer usage as precise to sites visited, username and passwords entered, screenshots of what is being viewed, and it logs it in a file accessible remotely or locally. I want to talk about key loggers.
Although it is prohibited to install key logging software on medical, government, or educational computers, it is perfectly legal to use such technology on your own personal laptop or desktop. If you own a law firm for example, as long as your employees receive notification upon logon that they are being monitored, then your firm can use key loggers as well.  Here is what a key logger can do for you:
1.       If your laptop is stolen, you can view the thief’s activity remotely and facilitate with the police report or homeowner’s insurance claim filing.
2.       If you want to keep tabs on your child, you can attain their passwords to their social networking sites, email inboxes, and see what videos they watch and when.  “Keylogger is your litmus test as a caring parent.” (
3.       For security on your personal computer to covertly monitor unauthorized activity for purposes of identifying download locations for virus protection.
When selecting a key logger, free is usually attractive, but there are privacy issues to be aware of for yourself.  Free software often earns its value for the author via either advertisements or data collection. I warn you about the latter regarding some free key logging software. When selecting a key logger, make sure that it does not do the very same thing to you that you intend to use it for. By that, I mean be sure that it does not open ports on your firewall, collect info about your data usage and pass it from your computer through the firewall back to the author of the free software.  You should be the only one accessing your logs, not the owners of the software. ( I find key loggers (and software that does not compromise your privacy in general) useful even if not used for invading your children’s privacy. Maybe it is a question of trust over transparency?
From a legal perspective, should any party other than yourself have any reasonable expectation of data privacy when accessing the internet from your computer? Maybe the next time you borrow a friend’s laptop to conduct a quick check of your bank account balance or respond to an urgent email, you might inquire if they use a key logger.

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