mr. zilla goes to town

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Think Of The Children

Computer giant Microsoft will shut its online chatrooms in Australia because of concerns they are being used by pedophiles to target children.

The company today announced it would close its chatrooms in all but five countries across the globe in an effort to protect children from unknown users and cut down on unsolicited emails, or spam.

In the US, Japan and Canada the chatrooms will continue as a subscription service, making users easily traceable by their credit card details.

And in New Zealand and Brazil free chatrooms will continue under the supervision of human and automated moderators.

The closure in Australia will affect 300,000 users of the chatrooms, which are accessed through the country's most popular website NineMSN, a 50-50 venture between Microsoft and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL).

Ngaire Moyes of NineMSN said the service would be withdrawn on October 14 because the risks to children had become too great.

"We have noticed an increase in cases of people abusing the chat service," she said. "We are very concerned with child safety."
So millions of children (and whatever number of stalking paedophiles) will now pour their online coversations into every other form and forum of realtime internet communication, making absolutely no long-term impact on the problem that they have detected. You'd think if they were really concerned about the children, they might have thought about finding better ways to make their chat rooms safer throughout the world. (To his credit I think Bill Gates personally does have some genuine concerns, but who knows at what level in MS this decision was made). Sending the problem elsewhere just makes me wonder if they're more interested in protecting their brand image from being sullied by any "my daughter was molested in a Microsoft chat room" splashes. Why the exceptions in NZ and Brazil I wonder?

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