Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced a settlement that stops the software company Echometrix from gathering information from children’s private online conversations and offering it to paying marketers. EPIC had complained to the FTC about Echometrix last year and the Dept. of Defense had subsequently canceled its contract with Echometrix in light of the complaint.
Echometrix is a New York-based software company that sells parental Internet monitoring software which allows parents and guardians to keep track of what their children do on the Internet. In June 2009, Echometrix began offering a program to companies called “Pulse” that used its Internet monitoring software to secretly collect and analyze portions of children’s private online instant messaging conversations. Pulse was marketed as a way for third party companies to get insight into what children privately said about products and services. Echometrix did not disclose to parents and guardians that its Internet monitoring programs were collecting and analyzing children’s conversations for marketing purposes.
“Echometrix sells software that protects children by gathering information for parents about what their kids are doing online, but at the same time it was marketing its data to outside companies without its customer’s knowledge,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This settlement prevents Echometrix from using the guise of children’s safety to undermine children’s privacy. As my office works to ensure that the Internet is a safe place for children, we encourage all parents and guardians to maintain an active interest in what their children are doing online.”
Under the settlement, Echometrix has agreed that it will not analyze or share with third parties any private communications, information, or online activity to which they have access. Echometrix will also pay a $100,000 penalty to the State of New York. Echometrix, which cooperated with the Attorney General’s office, ceased offering the Pulse product after the Attorney General commenced his investigation.