Chat room safety device has nothing to do with chat rooms

[Ad box removed; this image serves to flag pages that need to be updated in my log file.]

This item is all over the "intellectual property and inventions" aggregate feed this morning.  I chose the coverage because it has a little more detail than others.  The story is that a beautician in the UK has invented a "chat room safety device" and won an award for it.  Except...  the "chat room safety device" has nothing whatsoever to do with "chat rooms", and very little to do with "safety".

It's actually a telephone-number blocking device.  You plug it into your phone socket and it prevents other devices from calling a configurable list of phone numbers.  There's some hint that it may also act as a DSL filter (although filters to do that are already provided free by all DSL service providers).  I guess if you program it for the number of your dialup ISP, it will prevent users from going onto the Net and accessing "chat rooms", but simply cancelling your ISP account would have a similar effect.  From a networking point of view, it's pretty much the same as the "block all outgoing calls" option it's designed to replace - denying young people network access entirely is, I suppose, a kind of filtering, but it's the most blunt and indiscriminate kind possible.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the news coverage is inaccurate and the actual device is more useful than the one described.

I was also amused by the tale of little Stephanie, who "came home from school one day and told [her mother] that she had been on a chat room and she was not very comfortable with the conversations on line[.]" If she's uncomfortable, why doesn't she just log off?  This kind of filter only seems applicable when she willingly participates in conversations that her mother doesn't want her to participate in.  It would be more accurate for the mother to say "I was not very comfortable with the private conversations I eavesdropped on."

[Chat room safety device has nothing to do with chat rooms]

[Ad box removed; this image serves to flag pages that need to be updated in my log file.]


No comments yet.

Add Comment

Your name (required):
Your email address or URL (optional):
Type "bonobo" for anti-spam purposes:

This form is for posting public comments to be read by other people who visit this Web site. If you have a software support question, or other material directed to the page author instead of to the general public, please send email instead.

All the data you enter, and your IP address, will be saved and displayed. Don't enter secret information. HTML is not accepted; it will be displayed as plain text. Your comment will only be added if you enter valid data in all required fields; if it isn't, use the back button and try again.

I, and I alone, reserve the right to remove postings for any reason.

Copyright © 2004, 2007 Matthew Skala
Updates to this entire site: [RSS syndication file]
Updates to this category (youthrights) only: [RSS syndication file]