It is widely believed that the best way to keep children safe on the internet is education and appropriate supervision, such as having a PC in a public area of the home, rather than a bedroom.
In the days of 8 year olds having smartphones however some of these old lessons are no longer appropriate, leading to Microsoft applying for a patent which would give the parent a virtual presence over the shoulder of their child, even when they are on a smartphone.
The patent, “Real-Time Parental Monitoring”, should really be Real-Time Child Monitoring tool and would place virtual boundaries around a child’s communication, expanding beyond just when they communicate, but also with whom, the content of the messages, the type of messages (text vs pictures vs video) and would even be able to detect if messages are sexually explicit.
Beyond this, the service would also automatically send notifications to parents if boundaries are breached, keep a record of messages and even mirror messages in real time to parents.
Additionally the service would work both with apps which are compliant and apps which are not compatible, though Microsoft does not explain how they would manage this feat, though it may involve intercepting communication at the actual networking layer.
Of course if you are of age and think you are safe from this authorised man in the middle attack, the patent specifically notes “the child user in this instance does not necessarily refer to an actual child but any subordinate user. The child user may be subordinate to multiple administrative users, with each administrative user being able to edit settings and approve communications,” meaning this service may end up on your next work PC if Microsoft does actually implement it.
Do our readers who are parents feel such an intrusive system has a place? Let us know below.