Microsoft Offers One-Click Solution For Reporting Annoying Chatters To Police

from the have-fun-with-it dept

A few years ago, Microsoft decided to shut down their chat rooms in the UK after a few well-publicized stories of children being approached by predators in those chat rooms. Of course, this seemed silly to us. It’s not like the kids (or predators) would stop chatting. They’d just move somewhere else — perhaps somewhere with even less supervision or controls in place. Three years later, and it seems MSN in the UK has realized that many people are simply using the MSN instant messenger service for the same purpose. So, in what appears to be a part of their new internet safety effort, they’re adding a button to file a “one-click” police report complaint about who you are talking to. Of course Amazon need not worry about this violating their famous “one-click” patent. It appears there are actually a few more clicks. The single click just takes you to some sort of police service, where officers will then help the user capture information about what’s happening in the chat. Of course, making it so easy to report a problem probably means that people are going to report all sorts of non-problems, inundating the police, perhaps making it even more difficult for police to go after the actual predators.

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Comments on “Microsoft Offers One-Click Solution For Reporting Annoying Chatters To Police”

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Ted Brown says:

Why the negative angle at the end?

How could this construed as a bad thing?

If you or your child were faced with a situation where a pedophile was making moves, do YOU know how to report that to the proper authorities?

I understand your viewpoint here: historically speaking, opening up avenues of complaint leads to a massive increase in false allegations and wasted time.

But, if pedophilia is growing due to the internet (according to authorities) and if they are serious about gathering all the leads they can, then it this interface is a good thing.

I know you guys say these things because you like to point out how you were right months or years later, but, man. That was too much.

Please, bend your intellect towards better solutions to the problem, instead of launching spears from the sidelines.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Why the negative angle at the end?

How could this construed as a bad thing?

Because it might just be a bad thing.

If you or your child were faced with a situation where a pedophile was making moves, do YOU know how to report that to the proper authorities?

Yes, it’s good to have a way to report things, but when it’s too easy it will be too tempting to use this button and inundated the police. Why aren’t parents teaching their kids what to do in the event of an approach? There are ways to handle it without overwhelming the police with false reports.

I understand your viewpoint here: historically speaking, opening up avenues of complaint leads to a massive increase in false allegations and wasted time.

Um. Excactly.

But, if pedophilia is growing due to the internet (according to authorities) and if they are serious about gathering all the leads they can, then it this interface is a good thing.

But, it’s NOT growing. We just posted a report on this. Fewer kids are being approached, and those who are tend to know how to deal with it.

So, sorry, but this does seem like a bad thing. It’s going to be abused, and the REAL problem cases will be harder to dig out. It has nothing to do with being able to point out later on how we were right — but it is about making sure the police are NOT overwhelmed and made effectively useless when an important case comes along.

Joshua says:

Re: Why the negative angle at the end?

I understand that you want to be optimistic about this being useful and used right, but that is not always the realistic view (and in fact often isn’t).

Who is going to report these people using this?

Adults? If an adult is the one being propositioned while pretending to be a child then there is no crime and they most likely could not prove at all that they were not pretending even if they do just stumble into the room and see what’s going on.

Children? If children are the ones who are supposed to be using this then how could anyone expect them to use it only in the propper way and not for pranks and retribution (children are not known for their impecible judgement)? This is further complicated by the fact that it is not really possible other than photographic evidence to prove that it is a child that is being propositioned and even then it is inconclusive since an adult is likely the one taking the picture (or it can me claimed as such convincingly).

So in the end they have created a tool to generate alot of noise in the stream of information about illegal activities involving children and not much useful data.


If you say something and months or years later you can point to it and say “see I was right” then guess what? YOU WERE RIGHT WHEN YOU SAID IT! Advocating following the wrong path just because you hope that it will work is just a bad policy.

Myself says:

You gotta keep 'em separated.

What would be more useful is a way to keep the kids out of the adult areas, and the adults out of the kid areas. Most services ask you to specify your age — how about a “this person has implied that they’re older/younger than their stated age” button, and be done with it?

The system described in this article would then be useful in the any-age chat areas, which should hopefully be free of sexual advances.

Noalear says:

Re: You gotta keep 'em separated.

Hey you pretty much didnt think before you posted that did you? “keep them seperated” you’re absolutely right. Lets start grouping everyone off… Kids can only talk to kids- no parents allowed! no! Parents only talk to parents. While we are at it we dont want hate crimes… so 😮 we could seperate whites from blacks! Send them to a different school! Make them ride different busses! Great! Now this is progressive.

Oh! and btw MSN Messenger doesnt ask for your age, nor do you have a chat room. You have a list of “friends” that you talk to. Dont know if you’ve ever heard of such technology.. ya know.. in Arkansas.

charlie potatoes says:

out of the woodwork

this subject brings the pervs out. its a perfectly acceptable way for them to talk about kiddy sex and seem righteous at the same time. I suspect more than one of these comments was typed with one hand. give them a forum and they will expound on their views of chidren, sex and the need for protection ad finitum. they get their jollies.

but its like the hue and cry to re-design shopping carts for child safety.. duh. its natural selection. dont let your kid stand up in one.. parents need to control their progeny. if they can’t then they need to remove the pornograph from their homes.

no one thinks its a bad idea to let kids click and get someone’s ass in a sling if they get pissed off at them?

Check the laws says:

Adults pretending to be children...

I think you should check your laws on this. In most places, if a person propositions someone believed to be underage, they are breaking the law. That’s how sting operations work. It’s a little gray when the person performing the sting operation doesn’t prepare properly, but it is still against the law.

The Anti-charlie potatoes says:

Paranoid Much

Take a chill pill. You’re showing yourself to be part of the problem already stated. You have no idea who these people are who are commenting, yet you’ll gladly throw some accusations that at least one of them is a child molester and is prolly beating off as they type.

How sad is that? Maybe you should re-evaluate how you live your life and stop waiting for people to do wrong so you can point a finger. Ass.

As for the topic at hand, I personally feel the answer lies in virtual IDs that use a form of encryption to try to keep info from being falsified, much like a CRC check on P2P networks. So in the case of MSN, a person would go to sign up for MSN and would have to provide thier virtual ID (provided by local law enforcement or something) then they’d be allowed in. Honestly, it’s not much different than what they’re proposing, the only difference is, the ISPs and MS would know who is who before any reports are filed.

As is, what happens when someone clicks this button? Do the police show up at the house of the accused to question them, or do they then monitor thier online activity? Either answer requires them to know who this person is and by requiring digital IDs, they’d have that well before hand.

And before anyone cries about rights or freedoms, no one is forcing you to use these chat rooms. For MSN to require your true identity to use THIER service (for free at that) should be completely legal. If you’re not willing to provide such information, then you’re forced not to use MSN. Very simple approach that many VIDEO GAME MAKERS use to validate customer info in online games (via credit cards, not IDs). Sad MS can’t figure it out.

P.S., someone fix the
tag, cause they aren’t working for chit in this post here….

doubledoh says:

f the children

I’m tired of parents’ children ruining MY internet. If you can’t independantly safegaurd your kids from potential danger, then you shouldn’t have kids. Period. At the very least, parents should be embarassed that they are shitty parents…not use their ineptitude as motivation to attack technology. I hate lazy groupthinking parents. I also hate how parents use their majority mob-rule status to make me pay for their miserable little brats to go to school. I hope all those little bastards get molested. Ok, not really, but you can see my point.

Paul says:

AIM's 'Warning' Button

This reminds me of AOL IM’s ‘Warning’ button.

The purpose is so that if someone is spamming or being annoying you can ‘warn’ them, and if they get enough warnings from various people then they can no longer send IMs for a short period of time..

Of course I remember a few years ago when I used AIM in high school this feature got abused plenty just for kicks.

I wonder what the ‘tempt rating’ for high school kids to abuse this for kicks is.

My guess is 9 out of 10.

Ted Brown says:

On the positive side...

John Smedley of Electronic Arts talked recently about his daughter playing an MMO. His suggestion?

“I’d like us to implement a parental control that would allow parents to receive an email once a day of every piece of chat that their child was able to see that particular day.”

That seems like a great way to help raise awareness of what’s going on, and also cut down on rapid, vapid submission clicks.

LMFAO says:

lets see here… in MSN there are the following options: Block contact, deleta and block contact, ignore contact. Isn’t that enoug buttons for the same thing…. do we really need one more? As for the problem at hand, the police are looking after their interest: put people in prison, and parents are looking after their’s: dodge responsibility. To the parents reading this: You can’t always hold u’r kids’ hands while crossing the street; what u can do is to tell them to look both ways before crossing. Same thing here.

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