Friday, July 23, 2010

McAfee automatically updates (my computer, at least) with Parental Controls, addressing COPA-like issues

Last night, on an older laptop with McAfee, the automated update loaded an apparently new McAfee Parental Controls feature. Afterward, when I went to the Security Center, it told me that I had not activated the Controls.

As I am the only person using the computer I don’t need them, but I found it interesting that it loaded. It appeared to give the parent the ability to supply keywords that would cause a webpage to be rejected.

Here’s a write-up at “Internet Filter Review”.

McAfee’s own "Security Insights Blog has a detailed discussion of its product here  ("“Parental Controls” – When Parents Don’t Want to Control Their Kids and Kids Don’t Want to Be Controlled") and a discussion of the evolution of filtering for HTM materials since 2000, particularly during the period of the COPA trials.

I remember AOL’s parental controls a few years ago, and I experimented with setting up a “young tween” screen name, and found it was not particularly effective.

I have to add that kids vary enormously in maturity. When I was substitute teaching, on one assignment I got a “blue screen” error and an eleven year old sixth grader knew how to get the machine back up with windows commands. (He’d be entering college by now, or be working for Facebook or Google.) Some kids catch on very quickly to how everything works.

Again, we see that private business can do more to protect minors than government -- the libertarain position.

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