Police Around The Country Are Distributing Software That Makes It Easier To Hack Your Computer

Dustin Volz | Nextgov.com | October 1, 2014

ComputerCOP's makers have long promised their program will protect children from online predators, and that promise has been enough to persuade local police forces nationwide to hand it out free to concerned parents.  But according to a new report from an Internet freedom group, the police have been had—and the parents using the program are actually putting their families' privacy at risk.

The report, published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, found no evidence that the program is keeping kids safe. Instead, the report says, it serves as de facto spyware that takes private computer data and puts it online with woefully inadequate protections.  "I have not found a single example of where this program has helped," report author Dave Maass told National Journal, noting he had searched online press archives and spoken to several local law-enforcement agencies in order to determine the merits of ComputerCOP. "No one has made that claim."

Hundreds of thousands of copies of ComputerCOP have been given out to families around the county, as about 245 law-enforcement agencies in more than 35 states, in addition to the U.S. Marshals, have used public funds to buy and distribute the software. But Maass said he found only one claim that the program was working as intended, in a 2012 story from Jackson County, Mo. A follow-up inquiry to that county's police department clarified there was not enough evidence to merit a criminal investigation, Maass said...