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For stories on children and chat rooms, see the Children and Online Safety section of Privacy Watch.

Online safety threats lurk in instant messages
"Most internet users know to be leery of email attachments, even when they seem to come from a friend or colleague. These days, however, they also have to be careful of instant messaging attachments and links - because the virus writers are already there, too."
Full story - ComputerWorld
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Oct 3 08:36:45 EDT 2005

Privacy concerns over Yahoo IM upgrade
"Yahoo's latest salvo in the battle for control of users' desktops has got some worried - the 'default' installation of YIM now surreptiously installs myriad other things as well. If you're one of the tens of millions of Yahoo users asked to upgrade your instant-messaging software this week, be on your toes; the update can open the door to unwanted PC houseguests - and setting changes - by default."
Full story - ZDNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Sep 2 10:03:13 EDT 2005

New Liability Frontier: Instant Messages
"Google inc. announced plans last week to roll out a new instant messaging program designed to turn the world into "one big instant messaging network" -- a development that may leave employers wondering how responsible they are for the millions of instant messages that cross their servers. The message from lawyers: Start worrying."
Full story -
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Aug 31 07:45:59 EDT 2005

Of Avatars and Mob Justice: Invasion of Privacy, or Just Desserts?
"The Perverted-Justice Web site baits would-be pedophiles by posing as minors in chat rooms. But increasingly, legal and law enforcement professionals are expressing concern over the group's tactics: the group uses anonymous online personas, then publicly exposes suspects' private information for purposes of harassment, without any benefit of due process."
Fulls story - informit
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Aug 12 12:34:41 EDT 2005

Internet chat group comments concern officials
"SEEKONK -- Here, where webs of political intrigue and backroom allegations are spun and unspun anonymously on the Internet, a potential battle over the limits of free speech may be gathering steam. Town Administrator Thorn Mead last night said the town's lawyer believes anonymous statements that have been made against town employees on a Yahoo!-based Web site or Web sites "border on defamation" and that the police and town computer experts will be investigating."
Full story -
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Aug 4 09:27:05 EDT 2005

Making online connections more personal
"... The tool, which launched last month, is available as a free download at the Meetro Web site ( Once opened, Meetro figures out where you are. But it does not use global positioning technology to do so. It uses ordinary wireless network, or Wi-Fi, signals. "It's called triangulation," Bragiel said. "We can figure out where you are based on the Wi-Fi signals around you. You can find out within a couple-hundred-foot radius where the person is located.""
Full story - Chicago Tribune
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Jul 30 08:49:54 EDT 2005

iTunes IM worm drops adware
"A new instant messaging worm that masquerades as Apple Computer's iTunes application and drops adware on infected Windows PCs has been found. The pest is a new version of the Opanki worm and spreads using America Online's AOL Instant Messenger, security companies said."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Jul 21 12:29:48 EDT 2005

Court: Saving Internet chats is legal
"A common Internet tool used by police officers to catch sexual predators is legal and does not violate state wiretapping laws, the state Supreme Court has ruled. "Instant messaging proves to be a double-edged sword for a person wishing to commit the crime of soliciting children for sex over the Internet," Justice Linda Dalianis wrote in the unanimous decision. "While it provides immediate access to victims who might not otherwise be within the perpetrator%92s reach, it also provides a paper trail of evidence to prosecute that person.""
Full story - Nashua Telegraph
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Jul 16 08:59:18 EDT 2005

Flaws in BT chat sites expose users
"A third party website allowing unrestricted access to Oceanfree and IOL chat sites could enable visitors to view the IP address and domain names of the sites' 'chatters.' Through the use of a third party website, industry experts have discovered a method for logging into BT Ireland's Oceanfree or IOL chat sites without registering on the system, giving them the ability to impersonate other visitors to the site. What's more, experts have found a vulnerability on the BT Ireland chat sites which reveal not only the IP addresses of other active visitors, but also host names which could be used to pinpoint the physical location of certain visitors."
Full story - The Register
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Jul 15 11:21:21 EDT 2005

Killer lurking in chat rooms, girls say
"Edmonton sex-trade workers have a hunch our city's serial killer is lurking in online chat rooms, possibly stalking future victims or posting messages to get attention. A sex-trade worker e-mailed the Sun after reading postings on the RCMP's Project KARE website."
Full story - Edmonton Sun
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Jul 13 13:58:05 EDT 2005

Service Helps Track Down Cheaters Online
"... Maybe you've seen instant message pop-ups before -- intimate questions from someone you don't know. Maybe you ignore them. Maybe you don't. Imagine having a conversation only to find out later that your suspicious spouse has a transcript of the entire thing. That's the service offered by a company called"
Full story - TheBostonChannel
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Jul 6 17:54:58 EDT 2005

Yahoo Chat-Room Decision Draws Fire
"Yahoo Inc.'s decision to pull the plug on perhaps hundreds of chat rooms following reports that some of them were used to promote sex with minors was an "overreaction" by the entertainment portal, privacy advocates said Thursday."
Full story - InformationWeek
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Jun 25 00:53:02 EDT 2005

Yahoo Closes Chat Rooms Over Sex Content
"Reacting to angry protests from several of its top sponsors, Yahoo Inc. has pulled the plug on perhaps hundreds of chat rooms operating on its site after a media report revealed that some of the rooms were used to promote sex with minors. Companies such as PepsiCo Inc., State Farm Insurance and Georgia-Pacific Corp. stopped advertising on Yahoo after they were informed that adults were attempting to lure children into sexual encounters within some of Yahoo's user-created chat rooms, according to a report by KPRC-TV in Houston."
Full story - AP
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Jun 23 08:33:40 EDT 2005

Yahoo Pulls Plug On Child-Sex Chat Rooms Following Report
"Internet giant Yahoo has cracked down on chat rooms geared toward luring children -- the same rooms exposed in Houston television station KPRCs' online investigation two weeks ago. The move is being noticed by millions of Internet users from around the world. Many are outraged that their favorite chat rooms were shut down along with the sex-themed rooms."
Full story - Turnto10
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Jun 21 12:29:04 EDT 2005

Iran sees red over election text messaging craze
"The use of text messaging by Iranians to send often highly acerbic comments on their presidential election choice has worried the authorities, who are threatening to prosecute mobile-addicts who insult the candidates. The use of election text messaging had already become something of a craze in Tehran ahead of the first round of the vote, where young phone users sent messages languidly reflecting their cynicism with the whole process."
Full story - Technology Designerz
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Jun 21 12:26:29 EDT 2005

Mayor finds little privacy in Internet chat room
"After what Mayor James West called his "brutal outing" by a newspaper that published transcripts of his conversations from a gay chat room, he complained in an e-mail to the city's commission on race relations. West asked: "Should we all fear that our private conversations will be splashed publicly and out of context for all in our sphere to see?" The answer, Internet privacy advocates say, is "yes.""
Full story - kgw
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Jun 18 12:46:50 EDT 2005

New worm hits AIM network
"A new worm spread quickly on America Online's AIM instant messaging service Wednesday afternoon but was contained within hours, experts said. The worm spread in instant messages with the text: "LOL LOOK AT HIM" and included a Web link to a file called "picture.pif." If that file was downloaded and opened, the worm would send itself to all contacts on the victim's AIM Buddy List, according to representatives from IM security companies Facetime and IMlogic."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Jun 16 10:12:41 EDT 2005

IM Worm Blitz Continues
"Threats to instant messaging clients and networks continued to climb in May, a security firm said Tuesday, a trend that's been plaguing users since the beginning of 2005. According to instant messaging security vendor Akonix, its Security Center researchers tracked 51 new IM and peer-to-peer (P2P) threats during May, more than half of the total recorded for the entire first three months of 2005."
Full story - InformationWeek
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Jun 8 14:50:23 EDT 2005

'Rape Club' chat room wiped
"An Australian internet chat group where members boast of raping women has been removed after operating for more than a year on one of the country's most visited websites. The discussion group dubbed "Rape Club" was set up on the NineMSN website in February last year and, as of last night, had 67 members. The site, which had been freely available for the public to access, featured various posts relating to the raping of women."
Full story - STUFF
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Jun 7 08:31:15 EDT 2005

Worm, phishing scam hit IM services
"A new worm and a phishing scam are targeting members of the America Online and Yahoo instant messaging networks, security companies warned Tuesday. In both cases, people receive an instant message with an apparent reference to the newly released "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" movie, encouraging them to click on a link, said Jon Sakoda, chief technology officer at IMLogic, an instant messaging security company."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed May 25 07:32:29 EDT 2005

NASCIO Looks At Privacy Implications of Instant & Text Messaging in State Government
"In response to the growing use of Instant Messaging (IM) and text messaging, NASCIO examines the privacy implications of these technologies in its new research brief, TLK2UL8R: The Privacy Implications of Instant and Text Messaging Technologies in State Government."
Full story - Government Technology
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon May 23 08:31:39 EDT 2005

Messaging spreads office gossip
"One in five people in the UK are using instant messaging at work but the majority of firms are failing to regulate its use. In an online survey commissioned by security firm Akonix, a quarter of users admitted they see IM as the perfect vehicle for office gossip. Another quarter say they have used it to send something their boss wouldn't approve of. And 16% have sent or received sensitive company information via IM."
Full story - BBC
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue May 17 08:53:13 EDT 2005

New Worm Targets AIM Users
"Users of AOL's instant messaging software, AIM, should be on the lookout for an innovative new worm, variously named "Oscarbot-B" and "Doyorg" by antivirus companies. The Windows-based malware emerged early this week, and has made itself a nuisance for its ability to hijack the list of contacts or "buddies" in an infected user's IM account. After opening a window to any one of these contacts with the message "Hey check this out," it invites users to follow an embedded link. Anyone who clicks on this will risk becoming its next victim."
Full story - PCWorld
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon May 16 11:53:34 EDT 2005

Instant Messaging opens Pandora's box
"The increasing use of instant messaging (IM) as a business communications tool is exposing UK companies to serious security and legal issues, a survey published today has claimed. A YouGov poll of more than 2,000 UK consumers found that one in five now use IM at work, but over 60 per cent of companies admitted to being totally unprotected from the threats arising from the technology's misuse."
Full story - vnunet
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon May 16 09:54:14 EDT 2005

Corporate Spim Is No LOL Matter
"Spim is coming of age - and that's not a good thing. These annoying ads are the instant-messaging version of spam, and they chimed in a remarkable 1.2 billion times last year. The average IM user can expect to be interrupted with instant junk messages about five times a day, and those interruptions will grow to 27 times a day by 2008, according to the Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif., research firm. The Feds aren't taking it lightly: earlier this year they made the criminal arrest of an alleged spimmer. They charged an 18-year-old with sending more than 1.5 million automated instant messages advertising pornography and mortgages last fall."
Full story - Newsweek
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun May 1 10:54:04 EDT 2005

Reuters IM back online after worm attack
"International media company Reuters reinstated its instant messaging network on Friday, after shutting it down completely the previous day, when a variant of the Kelvir worm attempted an attack on systems using the IM application."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Apr 16 11:50:36 EDT 2005

Kelvir IM worm spreading fast
"... Kelvir - first discovered in February - originally used MSN Messenger to spread. However, now with around a dozen variants, the malware has evolved to a state where it can use a range of IM applications and collect email addresses without having to infect that user."
Full story - ZDNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Apr 15 08:28:04 EDT 2005

Reuters Suspends IM Service Due to Kelvir Worm
"Reuters shut down its enterprise instant-messaging service Thursday after a variant of the Kelvir worm began circulating through the network. The London-based company suspended the Reuters Messaging service at about 8:30 a.m. London time and was expecting to restore access by the start of business on Friday, a Reuters spokeswoman confirmed."
Full story - eWeek
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Apr 15 08:26:15 EDT 2005

Email worm graduates to IM
"A worm that first disguised itself as an email from computer vendors now attempts to trick MSN Messenger users into executing malicious files. The Chod.B worm, which was first discovered on April Fool's day, spreads via email purportedly from Microsoft, or security vendors Symantec and Trend Micro."
Full story - ZDNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Apr 4 08:29:56 EDT 2005

Trillian flaw highlights IM security threat
"Researchers have reported a vulnerability in the Trillian instant-messaging application, adding to the rapid development of IM-related security threats."
Full story - ZDNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Mar 29 12:37:14 EST 2005

Yahoo IM Phishing Attack Might Be Glimpse at Future
"Security experts say the phishing attacks launched on Yahoo IM likely represent the leading edge of an emerging threat to IM and to the growth of the messaging medium even as portals such as Yahoo, AOL and MSN hope to make it a key technology to keep users connected on PCs, portable computers and hand-held devices."
Full story - TechNewsWorld
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Mar 28 18:05:11 EST 2005

Does IM stand for insecure messaging?
"When Jimmy Kuo gave his 13-year-old daughter permission to begin using America Online's AIM Express, he warned her that if she managed to download any viruses, the result would be no IM for a long, long time."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Mar 22 10:38:48 EST 2005

Beware: IM hackers
"Hack attacks using instant messaging (IM) as an unprotected backdoor in enterprises are reaching epidemic proportions, industry experts have warned. Analyst firm IDC said that the problem is leading to a sharp hike in highly sophisticated IM attacks that spread malicious code and worms directly into organisations without any end-user intervention."
Full story - Computer Crime Research Center
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Mar 22 10:16:42 EST 2005

AOL clarifies IM privacy guarantee
"America Online said late Monday that it plans to revise its user agreement in response to concerns that instant messages sent through the company's service could be monitored. The new policy for AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, will stress that the company does not eavesdrop on customer's conversations except in unusual circumstances such as a court order, an AOL spokesman said."
Full story - CNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Mar 15 10:55:22 EST 2005

AOL To Modify AIM Terms of Service
"America Online Inc. plans to make three small but significant modifications to the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging product to head off a firestorm of privacy-related criticisms."
Full story - eWeek
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Mar 15 10:54:01 EST 2005

AOL explains its privacy policy
"America Online spokesman Andrew Weinstein responded to a request for more information about AOL Instant Messenger's terms of service... Weinstein said that AOL does not monitor AIM traffic, and does not store it. A record of an AIM communication is not saved in any storage medium at AOL, he said."
Full story - Houston Chronicle
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Mar 14 07:49:05 EST 2005

Senate looks into woes of mobile phone users
"... On top of the list is Resolution 169 filed by Roxas to review the practice of some telecommunication companies of sending random spam messages to subscribers using short messaging services (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) without the consent and approval of cell phone users."
Full story - ABS-CBN
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Mar 13 12:13:17 EST 2005

AOL's Terms of Service Update for AIM Raises Eyebrows
"The revamped terms of service, which apply only to users who downloaded the free AIM software on or after Feb. 5, 2004, gives AOL the right to "reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote" all content distributed across the chat network by users. "You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the content or to be compensated for any such uses," according to the AIM terms-of-service."
Full story - eWeek
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Mar 13 10:48:50 EST 2005

AIM's New Terms Of Service
"AOL has posted new terms of service for AIM, that include the right for AOL to use anything and everything you send through AIM in any way they see fit, without informing you."
Full story - Slashdot
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Mar 12 10:05:32 EST 2005

Companies turn to secure IM to meet privacy concerns
"With the use of instant messaging on an upswing, companies concerned about security, regulatory and privacy issues are sometimes turning to secure IM solutions that allow only authorised users access to IM -- while stopping others from sending instant messages."
Full story - ComputerWorld
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Mar 11 10:17:53 EST 2005

IM malware threat skyrockets
"Reports of malware, spam and hacking attacks over instant-messaging (IM) services are up 50 percent this year, according to figures released by security company IMLogic's threat centre this week. IMLogic reported that more than 30 new threats have emerged since 1 January, 2005 that target IM users, including viruses, worms, and spam over IM - often referred to as spim. IMLogic has issued 12 priority alerts to subscribers and customers in the last 30 days."
Full story - ZDNet
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Mar 9 12:36:48 EST 2005

New IM Worms Hit MSN Messenger
"New worms spreading through MSN Messenger -- and its bundled-with-Windows Windows Messenger version -- via links to a malicious site are infecting users and leaving their PCs open to hacker hijack, security vendors reported Monday. The new worms, tagged as Kelvir.a and Kelvir.b, appeared over the weekend and on Monday, respectively, anti-virus vendors said. Both use the same mechanism to attract users and infect Windows-based PCs: they include a link in the instant message. That link, in turn, downloads a malicious file -- the actual worm, a variant of the long-running Spybot -- which opens a backdoor to the compromised machine."
Full story - TechWeb
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Mar 7 14:59:07 EST 2005

Spin on spam targets instant messaging
"The scourge of e-mail - spam -is threatening to become the blight of instant messages as well. A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests that about 17 million adults have received "spim" - spam that arrives through computer instant-messaging services."
Full story - King5
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Mar 4 05:59:47 EST 2005

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Privacy Watch Index

FTC Brings Charges Against Company Flagged In CDT Complaint
From The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it had brought charges against Odysseus Marketing, publisher of a software product called ClientMan. The Center for Democracy & Technology had first identified ClientMan as one ...
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FaceTime Identifies Fake Google Toolbar Propagated Thru Instant Messaging and Internet Relay Chat
FaceTime today warns users about malicious links being spread through instant messaging (IM) and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which downloads a rogue, fake Google toolbar and adware on users machines and re-directs users to a ...
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Want to check your e-mail in Italy? Bring your passport.
ROME - An antiterror law makes Internet cafe managers check their clients' IDs and track the websites they visit... After Italy passed a new antiterrorism package in July, authorities ordered managers offering public communications ...
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Start-up getting financing for fingerprint technology
A San Francisco start-up, Pay By Touch Solutions, is expected to announce today $130 million in fresh financing for a novel way of paying for groceries and other goods and services: a machine that reads ...
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Court strikes down bank privacy law
Federal law trumps California's law restricting financial institutions from distributing information about their customers to affiliated businesses, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Tuesday...
Read more

FTC Targets Company Secretly Installing Spyware that Can't Be Uninstalled
Odysseus Marketing and its principal, Walter Rines, advertised software they claimed would allow consumers to engage in peer-to-peer file sharing anonymously... The agency charges that the claims are bogus. First, the software does not make ...
Read more

Another data security bill in the works
Rep. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican, said at a Visa cardholder security conference here that he plans to introduce "in the next couple of days" a revised version of the bill that he has been ...
Read more

Government Cracks Down On Spyware Operation
Government regulators are trying to shut down a company they say secretly downloaded spyware onto the computers of unwitting Internet users, rendering them helpless to a flood of pop-up ads, computer crashes and other annoyances...
Read more

Touch-screen voters feel exposed
... The Diebold machines - which will be installed at voting precincts throughout Utah by 2006 - sit atop stands and have tilt-top screens and plastic covers that can be adjusted. But some voters felt ...
Read more

Protect, don't suffocate me on ID theft (opinion)
I am not myself these days. I don't know who I am, but I am definitely not myself. A lady on the phone as much as told me so. This was after she had given ...
Read more

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