10 February 2010

Is Microsoft Exploiting the Innocent?

I'd never heard of the UK government's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), but that's not surprising, since I'm allergic to organisations whose approach is "truly holistic" as CEOP brightly claims. But as well as being susceptible to embarrassing cliches, it seems that the outfit is naive, too.

For, as part of the "Safer Internet Day", CEOP is promoting Internet Explorer 8 on its front page. And what exactly does this famous panacea for all human ills offer in this context? Well:

Download the 'Click CEOP' button into your browser toolbar to provide instant access to internet safety information for children and parents.

Of course, it's rather a pity that to access the information you have to use Internet Explorer 8, scion of a family of browsers that has probably done more than any other software to expose young people to harm on the Internet through woeful security that allows viruses and trojans to be downloaded so easily - one still riddled with flaws.

Strange, then, that CEOP didn't offer a much better way of protecting vulnerable users by suggesting that they switch to a safer browser; it doesn't even offer that same instant access to safety information for Firefox users, thus encouraging people to use IE8 if they want to see it. Moreover, it does this by providing - oh irony of ironies - a link to a .exe file to download and run, the very thing you should be teaching young people *not* to do.

It couldn't be that the young and innocent Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has allowed itself to be, er, exploited by that wily old Microsoft here, could it?

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guy said...

Yes, heard this one on the Today Programme yesterday morning, causing me to swear even harder at the radio than usual (Humphries et al being such atrocious technophobes and culture snobs). I'm afraid that technologically clueless nanny organisations like this are always ripe for manipulation (by MS or anyone else) because the majority of the adult population are less computer savvy than their kids. So the kids will have to learn for themselves... by bitter experience.

This isn't new. How many children were squashed by cars before the general population learned to cross the road safely and hence teach their kids?

Glyn Moody said...

@guy: yes, this is where the BBC really lets us down - also on its Web site.