DoD Pulls Software Collecting Data on Children

Whoops! The Department of Defense was forced to pull a parental control product from its online store because the software collected and sold private data--information on children specifically--on behalf of the developer. The DoD's online store serves military families, but was unaware that Echometrix's FamilySafe parental control software violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act when it went on sale in September.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint (PDF) to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the DoD, reporting that the software collects personal information from children and provides the data to third parties "for market intelligence purposes."

According to CNET, Echometrix is denying the allegations. "During the installation process we fully disclose all of Family Safe's procedures and clearly display an opt-out button for all anonymous aggregate data sharing in our (EULA) End User License Agreement," the company said in an email.

But Kimberly Nguyen, the EPIC lawyer who is handling the case, isn't buying the excuse. She said that the software collects data containing IM screen names that can be linked to e-mail addresses among other sensitive information. "The collection of children's data raises serious privacy concerns, and even the Defense Department realizes that," Nguyen said.

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