It seems kind of strange that after writing about Crisp Thinking, who have taken a network-based approach to detecting possible predatory paedophile discussions in chat rooms, I noticed xGATE who have come up with a hardware firewall solution aimed at solving the same problem. Now blow me down, along comes In Loco Parentis who produce anti-grooming PC software.
Interestingly, the software has been developed on behalf of a charity together with an ethical backer. Phoenix Survivors was established by Shy Keenan and Sara Payne. Phoenix Survivors is a completely independent web based voluntary support group set up for, and by, the victims of child sexual abuse and the families of children murdered by child molesters.
To quote the In Loco Parentis web site:
In Loco Parentis is an interactive system which allows you to:
- See which websites your child has visited, allowing you to check the website’s suitability and block if necessary
- Build a personalised library of words that you do not want your child to use or see online (watch words).
- Monitor their online behaviour and set actions to be taken in the event that good conduct rules are broken
- Be alerted by email to violations of the rules you have set up
- Encourage respect between users with a bad language alert and lock out feature
In Locus Parentis provide a list of acronyms that could be used as part of a grooming discussion:
|ASL||Age, Sex, Location|
|BRB||Be Right Back|
|CD9||Code 9— means parents are around|
|GNOC||Get Naked On Cam (webcam)|
|G2G||Got To Go|
|IDK||I Don’t Know|
|LMIRL||Let’s Meet In Real Life|
|101||Laugh Out Loud|
|MorF||Male or Female|
|MOS||Mum Over Shoulder|
|NIFOC||Naked In Front Of Computer|
|Noob||When someone cannot use a computer very well|
|NMU||Not Much, You?|
|PAW||Parents Are Watching|
|PIR||Parents In Room|
|POS||Parents Over Shoulder|
|PRW||Parents are Watching|
|S2R||Send to Receive (this relates to pictures)|
|TDTM||Talk Dirty To Me|
The software runs on the PC itself, unlike Crisp and xGATE. It contains a ‘watchword’ dictionary’ – like xGATE – that allows parents to be alerted to inappropriate language or behaviour. These words are divided into the categories of swearing, bullying, sex and grooming for easy access and administration. Parents are provided with search and blocking options.
The watchword dictionary
I wonder whether just being alerted by email to violations of the rules is suffcient. As we know, email is not a real-time service and is not much use in multi-PC homes where parents may be working, otherwise engaged or sleeping while their children are in chat rooms. xGATE’s SMS alerting seems far more sophisticated and usable.
An article in the Sun newspaper proivides an overview.
Anyway, we now have a network, firewall and a software solution for detecting chat room grooming and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the market.