Limestone Sheriff clashes with activist group over computer prog - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Limestone Sheriff clashes with activist group over computer program

But Wednesday, the program came under criticism from the anti-surveillance group, Electronic Frontier Foundation.(Source: WAFF) But Wednesday, the program came under criticism from the anti-surveillance group, Electronic Frontier Foundation.(Source: WAFF)
LIMESTONE, AL (WAFF) - Limestone County's Sheriff is clashing with an activist group over a new computer program to protect children online.

Sheriff Mike Blakely started offering the program "Computer Cop" for parents to better protect their kids from predators or inappropriate websites.

But Wednesday, the program came under criticism from the anti-surveillance group, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF has fought against phone companies helping investigators track terrorists and against laws to stop online piracy.

Wednesday it went after the the company that produces the Computer Cop software.

Dave Maass, with the Electronic Frontier foundation, said police across the country that have spoken out for Computer Cop are pushing a product that endangers security and privacy.

"This company has a business model that means going after law enforcement agencies and saying 'hey, you can get a great PR moment," said Maass.

Sheriff Blakely announced on Monday his office will offer Computer Cop to help parents protect their kids online.

The EFF said the program is spyware that could expose users to having private information, even passwords hacked.

"The issue with computer cop is it has what's called a key logger." said Maass. "Which means that everything that you're typing, computer cop is storing on your computer."

Huntsville software executive, Jay Kurowsky, said there could be a risk.

"It mines some sensitive data, so one thing that I would do with it is check to see how it's handling that data." said Kurowsky.

Sheriff Blakely said, Computer Cop is spyware designed for parents to watch and protect their kids but said the system has been vetted.

"We have had the key logger checked out with our IT people. They have run it on our computer system." He said. "There is no malware."

Blakely referred to the EFF criticism politics as an "Ultra-liberal organization that is not in any way credible on this. They're more interested in protecting predators and pedophiles than in protecting our children."

Maass acknowledges that there have been no indications that the system has actually caused any breaches.

"Well we don't know." said Maass. "I don't necessarily know that you would."

Blakely said he has spoken with other law enforcement agencies that use Computer Cop, and that he stands behind it 100 percent.

On the phone Wednesday he added "There are some parents out in Columbine Colorado, if they had this kind of software, things would have turned out differently."

Copyright 2014 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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