OPD got the money from Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice.
Sounds wonderful, right? (It certainly did to KPTM's Fox 42 reporter.)
Well, it turns out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the largest digital privacy/rights advocacy group in America, is considerably less than charmed by this product.
As official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.Yesterday the San Diego District Attorney's office issued an alert demonstrating how to address security concerns about the product. ComputerCOP is used elsewhere in Nebraska.
The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.
Furthermore, by providing a free keylogging program—especially one that operates without even the most basic security safeguards—law enforcement agencies are passing around what amounts to a spying tool that could easily be abused by people who want to snoop on spouses, roommates, or co-workers.