Now I'm not usually one who advocates the use of spyware of any sort. As a parent myself, I like to think that trust works better than software when it comes to controlling access to questionable content online. However, in the case of the British parents who spied on their 15 year old daughters online activity in order to trap a suspected paedophile, I will make an exception.
According to reports it would appear that the teenage girl had gone from being an open and happy child to a secretive and withdrawn one. She used to tell her Dad everything, so he reckons, but then started telling him nothing. Worse, she said she would be in one place with one person but ended up somewhere else with someone else.
That someone else turned out to be a 38 year old man.
By monitoring her email and IM activity online using an application called WebWatcher, the parents were able to identify the man and reveal that he was involved in a sexual relationship with the under age teen.
The man, who met the girl while he was working as an ice hockey coach, was arrested and after being found guilty of five charges of sexual activity with a child is now starting a four and a half year prison term.
Rather surprisingly, this has sparked some comments blaming the parents for their actions. One stated that "I do object to this monitoring being covert. Presumably her parents monitored activity that was not related to this criminal's activity - IMs and emails where their daughter could reasonably expect privacy and where there was no risk to her. Children should be supported, loved and protected by their parents - not deceived - even if it is for her own good." While another says "Sounds like another couple of parents unable to establish trust and discuss things with their kid. Snooping (opening snail-mail, emails and IM sessions, reading diaries, etc., it's all the same) is the best way to make sure there will be no trust anytime soon."
What are these people on? Perhaps they do not have kids of their own, or are kids themselves. I know one thing, in the circumstances I suspect the parents involved here would rather their daughter was a little pissed off at them for a bit, even perhaps lacking in trust for a while, instead of continuing to be molested by this dirty old man...