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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thumb-print scanning and conversation monitoring

The problem with using technology to look after children is that it is liable also, in due course, to be used to look after adults.

As part of writing for this, I occasionally buy the Times Educational Supplement, and on page 5 of the most recent issue (October 3 2003) it says this (paper only):

Pupils will soon be asked for a thumb-print instead of a password to enter internet chat-rooms.

A firm in the north-east of England has spent three years developing a scanner that will make it harder for paedophiles to prey on youngsters via the internet.

Think2gether, which is based in Gateshead, says the scanner is the first secure access system for chatroom users.

For about £30 schools will be able to buy the thumb-print scanner, which is already being used at the South Tyneside city learning centre and in Leicester education action zone.

Alan Wareham, director of Think2gether, said the system had attracted interest from as far away as Singapore.

“The problem is that children often tell other people their password, which is something adults tend not to do,” he said.

“A child can pass on this information in all innocence and the adult can then lon on as that child and pretend it is them using the chat-rooms.

“The scanner removes this possibility by scanning the child’s thumb-print three times before letting them in. We are also developing hardware which will monitor and record conversations in chatrooms, as additional protection.”

As so often when someone is quoted, the last bit is the scariest.

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