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How to Track Your Kids (and Other People's Kids) with the TicTocTrack Watch (troyhunt.com)
181 points by Digit-Al 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

What frustrates me is that the people built, marketed and sold this thing will likely face zero consequences, or at best maybe some minor monetary loss. There's literally no reason not to keep doing this.

Yup. These days the law doesn't really factor in the consequences of code/programming as it's almost impossible to legislate that.

For example, you could run NPM update that installs a malicious package that is somehow able to connect to your MySQLD and access all the tables (that contain geolocation information on children) and execute a cronjob to perform a query to backup the .sql data and upload it to a remote server.

There would be 0 consequences legally for such an action (or development would cease to function entirely).

Besides, how is knowingly storing GPS information on children acceptable? They can't consent, so maybe it's time to apply that to things like geolocation as well.

Code has no consequences, because law makers likely don't "get" what that means. You may think it's just $GPSOfALLChildrenInTheDatabase but that variable can cause actual, real harm to humans.

There's totally a disconnect.

> They can't consent

The parents consented and the majority of states in the United States consider children property of the parents before they turn 18. It's sad, but normal.

Why can't we legislate that getting owned by npm is your own fault?

Driving a car that hasn't passed minimal safety and status checks in many European countries is forbidden, why not forbid the use of stupid package managers?

You realize that a car is much more dangerous than a GPS location right?

A package manager is just that, a package manager.

Legislate as much as you want over software where live are in dangers, sure. I would be happy to see legislation over software like the one for the Therac-25, but legislation over package manager? Yeah no...

You also want to add minimal safety laws over shoes too?

You realize it depends where and why the GPS location was collected? For example the GPS location leaked by a gay dating app in certain countries means certain death for the person.

Wow you were quick to read and comment. I updated it before seeing your answer.

Sure it depends, which is exactly the point that I meant. A package manager is a use case pretty large.

You wouldn't have the same safety requirement over both shoes and cars, thus the same apply to software.

Indeed, a piece of software needs to be looked at in proper context, but that doesn't mean we should continue with the current wild west - if you sell a piece of software why shouldn't there be authorities that monitor the software not to be malicious? We have alcohol licenses for example, why not have the same with software?

Or a malicius packages just updating Linux. It is a lot easier to hide than in NPM.

What consequences should they face? And what for? Please put their charges into a sentence.

It's gonna be stupid hard to make a law about "negligent software development" without opening every developer EVER to ridiculous fines and punishment.

Is using C "negligent"?

How about not having test cases?

What about doing "git commits" after 6 PM?

Are only companies liable, or would a developer of an open source project be liable?

Governments move slow. They declare everything must be encrypted with TLS 1.3 -- but now TLS 1.4 is out. How long until they change the standards? What happens when they start to try and influence the standards?

> It's gonna be stupid hard to make a law about "negligent software development" without opening every developer EVER to ridiculous fines and punishment.

Not the developer, the company willing to ask money for software they sell with their products. If you ask for money then you should take the responsibility.

> Is using C "negligent"?

Yes unless you audit the software you're selling and it proves you have taken precautions.

> How about not having test cases?

Yes. If that's the only thing stopping you from endangering people.

> Governments move slow. They declare everything must be encrypted with TLS 1.3 -- but now TLS 1.4 is out. How long until they change the standards? What happens when they start to try and influence the standards?

Whats your point? That we should let shit software that doesn't take basic precautions just exist because the government is too slow?

We can't make airplanes crash-proof either but certain security additions and safety measures have been made mandatory. Why can't we force the same for software? The fact that a thing hasn't been doesn't mean it can't be done. GDPR isn't the best example but it the very least has some legal recourse to blatant violations of privacy, why not make a law that punishes for blatant violations of security.

This might be an interesting case with GDPR now in effect.

"UK agent for Gator said that they didn’t have the money for security, as otherwise they couldn’t afford a staff Xmas party"

I love this.

It'd be pretty difficult to hand-craft a worse PR statement than that.

Apparently their company is so unsuccessful they can't afford both. And given the choice, they pick the wrong one, guaranteeing their continued lack of success.

It's like a vortex of shitty.

Never mind that far less kids go missing today than 20 years ago and there's much less chance of them being hit by a car, circumstances are such today that parents are more paranoid than ever.

One could easily take those statistics as evidence that parents' paranoia is effective, not that the dangers have decreased.

Hadith wrote a book called The Coddling of the American Mind that shows this is really not the case. Crime and abductions were going down long before the Internet era and the era of modern helicopter parents. Most of the fear around these very uncommon events have made parents tether their children today and restrict their free play. This in turn can affect how they form bonds, make friends and view the world.

He makes the argument this is why college campuses today are a bit mad, with students unable to deal with speech and ideas they don't like, labeling it as hate speak and calling on condemnation and suppression of free though.

Thanks for the pointer to the book. For others interested, the authors are Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

For what its worth, I agree that parents are overprotective to the point that it hurts children's development. I let my kids roam more than most (from what I can gather) but I do live in a fairly safe area.

As a parent, I don't need any statistics. If there is a device that can help me to find my daughter if she get lost accidentally - I don't see reasons to don't use it. She can't talk yet but she loves to run to some forbidden place if she has any chance to do this.

There is an application for these devices if they are implemented securely:

Adults with dementia or significant cognitive decline who wander and get lost.

They only way to implement this securely is if the stuff is self hosted. You setup a device in your home that can open up a port via uPNP, the watch connects directly to the device using a shared set of keys that never goes to a central server, and all the code on the watch and home server are open source and they are setup by default for regular, automatic, signed updates.

There can still be security issues in this situation, but if enough people use it and hack on it, they have a better chance of getting fixed quickly.

The trouble is, this type of setup is a nightmare to implement. Home routers today still make this incredibly difficult. Most people would just get frustrated and prefer something that has a central server, with closed source garbage, that seems to do everything for you.

Plus there's more money to be made if you can collect all that customer data.

I try to limit the times I am painting with such a wide brush as to categorize the output of an entire county but in the case of technology coming out of China, isn't it almost guaranteed to be "insecure"?

I am saying insecure in the sense that there is no doubt that the Chinese government has access to whatever data in TikTok they want. I am admittedly out of my depth on detailed discussions about security but I believe this is basically the situation in China. Maybe you could argue that it is effectively the same in the United States but I'm not sure.

It depends on your threat model. There are certain types of information that would be of interest to the Chinese government, and you would, indeed, be unwise to use any services that are under the purview of the Chinese government to store or transmit such information.

Whether such services would be perverted by the Chinese government is a whole other discussion of course.

However, I don't think anyone but the most rabid sinophobe would accuse the Chinese government of wanting to abduct our children.

For that use case the thing needs a secure bracelet because the person wearing it will forget or question the need for it and remove the device. But a secure bracelet is a dangerous safety hazard.

I agree. A person with dementia going out and then getting lost when it’s -15℃ outside is possibly lethal.

By that logic pets and livestock as well, but I'm sure this exists already.

There are a handful of products for pets at least. I'm personally familiar with Whistle. It's collar-mounted, works fairly well for a large dog in a rural area despite spotty cell coverage (which the software doesn't handle terribly gracefully). Amusingly, the monthly subscription is only a third the price of the product in the OP.

For livestock to be a viable market, the monthly subscription would have to go down substantially. In the US, your large market segments are poultry, pork, and cattle. Chickens just aren't worth enough. Hogs are $75-150 live (with thin profit margins) and are a pain to catch, though I'm not familiar with escape rates in commercial operations. Cattle are worth 10x that and do escape occasionally, but they're not terribly difficult to find nor catch.

Perhaps there's a market for tracking hogs for small farms and cattle for commercial grazing operations, but I'd be surprised if tech could do much to disrupt the existing low-cost solution: ear tagging and a phone call when your neighbors/police find a cow on the road.

Pets frequently have implanted microchips, but for identification purposes, not live tracking. I suspect folks offer GPS trackers for pets already.

Lifestock you can typically afford to lose a couple of.

"afford" is relative. If a tracker is cheaper than the expected loss value (replacement value X percent chance of losing an animal), it makes sense to track.

Tracking is better than nothing but they should not roam unaccompanied anyway.

This assumes that you can afford supervised care. One of these devices is going to be cheaper than that kind of care, especially depending on how long you would need to maintain the supervision.

Technology sure has changed. I remember when I was a kid, if my parents wanted to keep track of me they would just tie me to a radiator. Happiest day of my life was when they bought a 50 foot extension cord - opened up entirely new vistas. Good times.

If this is sarcasm it’s a bit dark and that is fine, otherwise I want to give you a hug because this makes me very sad.

I've got to be missing something. How difficult is it to implement secure authentication to the server that has access to the database? Am I just doing it wrong? Because it doesn't seem overly difficult to me to secure my web services.

There are many so-called software engineers who respond with some variant of "no one knows about it but us, so it's fine". It's not even security-through-obscurity, as no particular efforts are made to obscure the resource, just that no particular efforts are made to publicize or document it and thus "that's good enough security for MVP".

I once worked with a solutions architect who said things like "so? There are laws against people accessing this illegally. We don't need SSL"

Seems like the people who would be able to implement this stuff securely is also mostly the people who would not want to.

[Edit: spelling]

People who go through the Ruby on Rails tutorial, where you make a simple microblog and each post is identified by a sequential number get a job making software for a little 2-bit company and this happens.

Do rails tutorials not have login pages?

Many tutorials are written by people who have just learned about the thing, not by those who have to have had to write secure code.

It's probably not difficult - there's plenty of libraries for every framework and stack. My guess is this product was developed in an "agile" fashion. The contracting company showed a "POC" that did what the product owner / VIP wanted to. Then they probably said "ship it".

Product managers are more concerned with functionality than other things like scalability or security. My guess is they just never explicitly asked for it.

We’re living in a moment in which the Shenzhen industrial complex can give us technical wonders at very low material cost. The total social cost, however, is still being measured.

Seriously, read this article - it's way way worse than tracking. You can forge where the kid is on their parent's view, you can take over the SOS button (that it sounds like should call their parent's phone), you can send a text or voice call with zero interaction that claims to be from their parent.

This is a perfect example of how our implementation of the basic web is incomplete.

Any informed person, given the choice, would absolutely want that data going directly from child to parent, with no web service, accounts, analytics, cloud, nothing. And when such a thing finally does hit the market, it's going to be through a vendor/device lock-in, or a supposedly secure silo'd infrastructure, instead of a simple protocol that let's us develop actual P2P applications.

It's really a simple fix, it would kill off a ton of bad companies, or change their economics, and would open up web development to a whole new paradigm. Somebody please...!


There's an entire episode of Black Mirror devoted to exploring a dark potential future of this sort of thing:


I looked at these devices a while back, and decided that they are a security risk that I can't accept. In a way, I am glad to have been proven right, but that doesn't make me happy.

I plan to build my own device of this kind for my child, using components I control to a reasonable extent and software that I write and understand. No external services.

I find it somewhat sad that entire categories of devices are off-limits because I don't trust the companies (for good reasons): I have similar plans for home lighting and other home automation, because every commercial device I see is a disaster in terms of security, trust, longevity and reliability.

I'm half way through The Coddling of the American Mind and just got through the chapters on children and free play.

When I was a kid I had to take the school bus, but there were many kids who were close enough to our elementary school that they could just walk. One year my homeroom class was next to the back gate and a teacher forgot to unlock it, so we got to laugh at like the 15~20 standing there who couldn't get in (an announcement was made to let the walkers in without a later slip).

I wonder if that would even be allowed today. There was an article on here a few months back where a Canadian got into trouble for letting his kids ride the city bus alone (there were three of them; they always rode together and they were carefully taught the routes and how to backtrack if they missed their stop).

Although I disagree with some of the stuff in his book (he likes to blame iGen and play the fake generational gap game), the free-play time stuff is alarming. There is value to handing out with your friends, without parental supervision, without a phone or tracking device, and building that trust that you will come home by x pm.

This tracking of kids and not letting them out; is it mostly an American/Canadian thing? The article mentioned Germans and these tracking watches, but I remember even as late as 2013, I'd often see heaps of school kids waiting for a tram or a city bus in Melbourne on their own. In New Zealand I'd often see primary school kids walking home or taking a city bus if they missed a school bus (which were just city buses with a "school" sign attached to them).

It'd be interesting to see freeplay by country. I kinda do agree with people like Hadith and Sam Harris who suggest kids should only have flip phones until they start high school.

Are you wondering if kids are allowed to walk today? Yes of course, though the school won't generally release Kindergarteners to walk home by themselves. Can't stop parents from deciding to send them to school by themselves though.

Source: I live a few blocks from the elementary school and have two kids going there. Lots and lots of elementary kids walk to & from school without parents.

IMO it’s definitely not a European thing. My son is currently sleeping outside my apartment in his stroller, in a shared back yard. As a kid I rode my bike a mile though many intersections to get to school. It doesn’t seem to have changed.

I find it ridiculous that people can be arrested/get in trouble in the states for letting their kid sleep in a stroller on the other side of a café window. But that happened recently to a Dane on vacation.

As a side note, I recall watching a documentary about Japanese norms, where the kids are literally taught to be traveling alone in public from a very early age. So this is not just a European thing either.

We need a new board for certifying IoT things. Something like the NTSB but for non-phone / laptop / desktop (non-standard?) technical gadgets.

Otherwise these incredibly insecure devices will continue to be manufactured and sold.

They will continue to be manufactured and sold uncertified then.

Ok, how about another example: the FDA. I'm sure there are plenty of drugs that failed the trial phase: they might fix a headache, but could introduce far more severe side-effects.

Consumers have no way of knowing if an over-the-counter drug they are buying will complicate their health further: they trust the manufacturer and the FDA to do those checks for them.

Why not have a similar structure for technology? What prevents risky / dangerous over-the-counter medication from being sold, and can we apply those same measures to IoT devices?

Yup, people are cheap. Just go on Amazon and look at the cheap Smartwatches. I actually tore down an APK of one "WearHealth_v1.0.55_apkpure.com_source_from_JADX" and it contained some really dodgy URLs to Chinese servers.

Nothing you can do really, the platform (Android) should be responsible for protecting the individual to be honest.

Nah, make it required like FCC certification, and make the uncertified mark be a poison sign.

How many cheap electronic devices at Amazon have a non-fake FCC certification, what do you think?

$209 for junk....when a perfectly good series 3 aw can be had for $199

*$379. The $279 Series 3 doesn't have cellular which is core functionality for this use-case.

And even if you have the LTE version you still have to pair it with an iPhone.

Tried to explain this to my 8-year-old last night as she was fuming about not being allowed to have my old AW. So many reasons, none of them at all valid to a child that age :)

Reverse Engineer them, create a secure software for them could be a fun project for a hacksaw :-)

It really saddens me to see a culture where parents feel like they have ownership over their children. Children are people. They ought to be given autonomy over themselves, their proprerty, and their privacy. Helicopter parenting is profoundly psychologically damaging and should be illegal. It's child abuse.

> Children ... ought to be given autonomy over themselves, their property, and their privacy

No no no.

My 10 year old child definitely should not have adult-level autonomy.

It is my responsibility as a good parent to train my child by limiting aspects of their life. My children do not have unsupervised access to the internet. They do not have unlimited screen time. They cannot go on social networks and make friends with random people.

It is my job as a parent to not abuse my position as a parent. But I would fail my children greatly if I gave them autonomy over many aspects of their life.

As they prove themselves adept at self-regulation, growing wisdom and good judgement then, and only then, do I grant them more autonomy.

Autonomy is, as almost everything, not binary. And no, most children can not handle adult level autonomy at age 10, but if some child can, then they should be allowed. Frankly, I wouldn't be very surprised if the amount of 10 years old that can handle adult level autonomy is greater than the amount of 25 year olds who can't.

Working with "problematic" kids I came to a few conclusions, all of which I obviously can't know to be correct, but still. The first and foremost was approximately this: One should almost never assume what children can, and can't do. The individual differences seem to be wider than the oceans, and the only way to really know is to teach, trust, and fearless observation.

Most kids will know if you don't trust them, I've seen some 6 years old be "mortally" afraid on an adventure course for kids, as long as their parents were in view. When they could no longer see their parents, their courage grew by the second, and they did their small zipline with the proudest smile one can imagine.

It's quite scary, as a parent, to observe the power we wield. That our fears can directly create fear in our children, even if we try to hide them. These parents were supportive and encouraging, but they had their own fears, fears which they couldn't hide well enough, and the kids knew instantly, and instinctively.

Do they get unsupervised free play time with other children without adults watching? This is something previous generations grew up with, that modern kids (those currently in university) do not have, and there is evidence it affects the way they look at the world in pretty negative ways.

It's fair to say that there's a balance to be struck here, but I think that strapping a spying device on their wrist is far from that balance.

Most parents grant them that autonomy you're talking about way, WAY too slowly. Would you let a 5 year old walk a couple of blocks down to the corner store to buy milk alone? If your answer is no, you're on the "too slow" side of the spectrum in my opinion.

I tend to be fairly permissive, but having a 5-year old walk a couple blocks (by definition, crossing at least one street and likely multiple) is not on the right side of the risk spectrum for me. I suspect this depends largely on the local traffic situation (controlled intersections vs not, crosswalks vs not, prevailing traffic speeds and density, etc).

Your kid can dart into the street even when you're with them. You should teach your kids about traffic safety at an early age, and ideally have made this particular trip with them several times before so that they (1) know how to behave and (2) don't get lost and (3) have been introduced to the shopkeep and others in the neighborhood.

It's pretty easy to gradually ramp up to this and to continue ramping up to more indepdendence at a much faster pace than most parents do.

I totally get your point. However, losing track of young (1-4 years) kids in IKEA or an amusement park is a very real thing. Not using “new technology” to mitigate this issue seems like a waste.

I'd go even further in the opposite direction than other responders and say this can be a good thing. Your child getting lost in ikea is a safe way for them to learn the dangers of getting lost and also a safe challenge to overcome. Similar to how falling and hurting yourself in a playground is a safe way to test boundaries and experience challenge.

Imagine you're 5 and you get lost in ikea and get scared to death. Nothing bad will happen because it's ikea, but you'll learn that getting lost is terrifying and you will be a lot less likely to do it again.

Kids need to be safely challenged, or else they won't know how to respond to it when it happens for real. Not having challenges makes kids narcissistic and lowers their empathy. Helicopter parenting is turning our kids into the worse kinds of people.

I wonder if attaching a tracking bracelet (just to be sure the kid is not actually getting abducted) and intentionally "losing" the child might provide a useful formative experience without much risk.

IMO, the problem isn't "the kid got lost in IKEA". The problem is "the kid was abducted in IKEA".

We've got pretty good systems in place for dealing with kids who are merely lost. Dealing with kids who are abducted is another story, and a tracker definitely helps there. It's a sad reality that we have to worry about that situation still.

No, we don't have to worry about this situation, and using them to justify this technology is wrong.

Child abduction by a non-parent is exceptionally rare. Each year there are around 200 of them, of which 90% make it home safely. That means that your child's risk of being abducted is about 0.00027%. That's absolutely no basis to justify this awful technology on, and no reason for you to worry as a parent. Not to mention: the abductor could just take your spyware watch off of the kid.

source: https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2016-ncic-missing-person...

I'm trying to understand how you got 200 from this report. On page 2, I see this paragraph about the Missing Person Circumstances (MPC) field in their database:

"Of the 647,435 records entered in 2016, the MPC field was utilized in 315,995 (48.8%). When the MPC field was utilized in 2016 entries, 303,237 (96%) were coded as Runaway, 2,107 (.7%) as Abducted by Non-custodial Parent, 303 (.1%) as Abducted by Stranger, and 10,348 (3.3%) as Adult - Federally required entry."

So it looks like one should take the number 303 for "Abducted by Stranger" and perhaps, since only 48.8% of records had this field populated, extrapolate to about 620 cases. Does that sound right, or should it be 200 based on a different reasoning?

Of course, 620 cases is still a pretty small number. I just wanted to understand where your numbers came from. How did you get the figure of 90% making it home safely, and how did you calculate the probability of 0.00027%?

Actually I have to admit that I originally wrote my numbers based on a random article I found which summarizes this source:


Then I went to the source to verify that the information was there, but didn't re-run my numbers. I apologise, that was lazy and misleading.

Oh, okay, cool. Thanks for clearing that up! I just happened to dive in because I also believe the panic about abductions by strangers is overblown, and wanted to be able to quote numbers with confidence.

abductions are not a real risk. They are incredibly incredibly rare. The fiction this is common is what has led to the over protection of kids and the inability of them to develop in the ways previous generations have.

Kids are much much more likely to face abuse from a family member or close friend than they are to be abducted. The sheer rareness of Amber Alerts (not to mention their effectiveness) are a good indicator of that fact.

This is ridiculous... Unless your tracker is intradermal, the abductor would just remove it.

Don't worry, your child is much more likely to be abducted by someone you know than someone off the street. I'd be the most wary of who you drove to Ikea with.

I don't see it. Both IKEA and theme parks are well equipped to deal with this. Speaker systems, clearly recognizable employees, etc. "Attention visitors, little Luke can't find his parents, can the parents of Luke please come to the infodesk?"

(My youngest turns 4 tomorrow and we've visited IKEAs and theme parks many times without trackers)

You've gone to multiple, distinct IKEAs?

Yes, how will know which one has the best meatballs, I'm a fan of number #37, but #43 is a close second.

Not the guy but, is that odd?

It was a comment on my weird grammar (that I have since fixed) and pretty on point :-)

Actually, yes :-)

Fixed the grammar, thanks.

We have two of those in Brussels...

I remember getting lost in a department store as a child. Sure, it was "scary" for a few minutes, but ultimately 99.9999% will be reunited.

No need to keep a permanent record of every movement.

I remember purposefully hiding in the hollow center of the circular racks of clothing at the department store as a small child.

I do, too.

I also remember a few times (both as a young, scared small child, and as an older embarrased teenager) losing track of my parents and having the employees call "Will Mrs. Carrotson please come to the service counter" over the intercom...and I hear similar messages when shopping now as an adult.

That said, I'm a lot more fearful of what could happen if my toddler was found by someone other than me in the center of the clothing rack. To be clear, I have little fear of a criminal harming or absconding with my child, I'm much more afraid of what happens when a well-meaning bystander thinks they need to call CPS to make sure that my kid is taken care of.

Yeah, it does seem like CPS is the boogeyman. They're pretty much the last people you'd want involved with your kid.

I'm betting not all parents even consider these things might be making a permanent record. They just want something to find the kids if and when they're lost.

> I remember getting lost in a department store as a child.

I do too; except I remember being so scared of being lost that I kept better track of my parent

Losing your kids in IKEA... is not a big deal.

kzzzt can the parents of the missing child please report to customer service to pick up their child kzzzt

Losing your kids in IKEA... is not a big deal.

Somebody else losing their kids in an IKEA is no big deal. To the parent of the lost kid, for the duration the kid is missing, it's probaby a big fucking deal.

Losing and being temporarily separated are two very different things. Most everyone likely has a "separation" story. Most don't have a long-term loss / kidnapping story.

I personally see the solution as both potentially useful and egregious as implemented. Selling an unaware parent a product with strawman promises that have hidden agendas are not good for anyone. This type of technology will be legitimately useful how many times and at what cost (monetary and privacy)?

If, as a parent, you have a tool that you depend on to fulfill a certain task - then part of the selling point is that it offloads the given task at some level. So... Are you more diligent about keeping tabs on your child with this? Probably not. Instead, most of us have learning experiences from becoming separated from our parents. I'm not sure the gist is for a parent to say to their child: "you have this watch so leave it on and I will be able to find you" - but regardless of how a parent describes the watch to the child I'm sure that's a portion of the root idea. Does this diminish the precedence of the situation before it happens for the child? Potentially. It also gives unknowing consumers false confidence at varied levels all while being illegitimate about the entirety of the "product".

Don't get me wrong, technology is great for many things. However it's oft over used and diminishes from some life skills. I'm overly scrutinizing of technology use in my children's life and err on the side of as little consumption through technology. Creation using technology is what I support. But far too often parents conflate the two and, simply, have no clue the negative impacts they're supporting.

That depends on whether they're the type of parent who instantly concludes "OMG abduction" or the type whose mind goes to the much more likely, nuisance-level scenario.


Have you ever lost track of your kid? Many years ago I was changing my son’s diaper in the SJC airport. My wife had gone to the restroom and left our 3 y/o daughter with me too. In the blink of an eye my daughter disappeared. Now we were in an airport past security. A pretty ideal place to lose your kid all things considered. And it turned out our daughter had just followed after her mom and had gone into the women’s restroom, which is what I figured. But it was still fucking terrifying not knowing where my daughter was for a few minutes.

I still wouldn’t put trackers on my kid. And we were never those parents that leashed our kids. But I don’t judge parents that do.

When we went to things like the state fair, I’d write my cell # on my kids palm and gave them instructions: “if you get lost, ask a woman for help.”

It’s still damn scary losing your kid though.

I don't follow. Are you saying that they're "shitty" because they're worried about their missing child? Or that the kid got lost in the first place?

It's shitty to worry about your kids when they are missing? Maybe you wrote that backwards?

Utterly ridiculous. Parents have a responsibility to supervise their children. This is clearly defined by law in most countries, and for good reason; children are not emotionally ready to exert self-autonomy. They lack the cognitive skills and experience to do so. They lack the legal ability to exert control over their property, to engage in contracts, etc etc.

Now should parents monitor every moment of their children's life? No. But they have a duty and responsibility to supervise their children. Children should be given expanding freedoms as they mature, but this (again) needs to be supervised.

This is trivializing real child abuse and a lot of other complicated things about parent-child relationships with superficial "rights" language. Kids are not just little adults.

I went through this and the other kinds of abuse growing up, and so did people close to me. Psychological abuse is still abuse and it has a profound impact on the rest of your life.

Sorry to hear that! Unfortunately this abstract stuff is basically vagueposting: it might help you feel better but not a whole lot gets across to the reader. I'd like to hear your story sometime but I don't want to invade your privacy.

I kept it vague for the same reasons that you don't want to invade my privacy. Despite being vague it does serve the purpose I intended it to: dispelling your argument that I don't understand abuse or that I'm "trivializing" "real" abuse.

The original comment that says anything short of "autonomy over themselves, their proprerty, and their privacy" is child abuse still does trivialize real abuse. I think you still have time to edit that comment to be more specific about the kinds of non-autonomy you think of as abuse.

This is one possible ideological argument. There are many successful alternatives based on culture, clan, tribe, and family units making these decisions, rather than primarily parents. There are highly individualistic ideologies and highly communal ones, and a continuum between them. It's easy to criticize any extreme example, but right vs wrong is just binary logic and isn't that interesting or relevant. The consequences are what matter, and those are complex, much of which are neither good nor bad.

Ownership of children is baked into most language. The language reflects the relationships. My child. My mom. My sister. My dog. I wouldn't call that psychological damage but I would call it programming. I also wouldn't call it either right or wrong, it merely is so, and there are consequences that follow. A good deal of that is stability.

Brave New World is but one example of disrupting these units and relationships.

I personally would feel more comfortable letting my kids run off and play without my direct supervision if I knew I could check where they were via GPS. Not a fan of these specific and clearly broken products, but I like the idea in the abstract.

Teach your kids about dangerous things outside, introduce them to the community and teach them how to ask strangers for help. Then they'll be in good shape even when the battery dies or a storm comes in. Tracking their every move is unethical and wrong. You have no right to infringe on another person's privacy and personal autonomy like that.

> Teach your kids about dangerous things outside, introduce them to the community and teach them how to ask strangers for help.

I intend to do this.

I also plan on giving my kids cell phones when they're old enough (School age, is my current assumption), and will ask them to share their locations with me.

However, To say that parents have no right to infringe on the privacy or personal autonomy of their children is incorrect.

I'm legally responsible for the well being of my kids. I'm legally required to ensure my child is safe at all times. This can involve leaving my child with another guardian, but for various reasons I'm not about to trust the school.

I can be sent to prison for a maximum of 2 years and fined $50,000 if I break these laws. Being absent from my children's lives for 2 years would damage their development.

I can present all this information to my children and ask them to decide if they want me to know where they are at all times. You could make the argument that they're not mature enough to give me that permission.

What's the worst that's going to happen? They'll dart out into the road and get hit by a car? That could happen just as easily if you're around and haven't taught them road safety, and if you have then you needn't be around. Abducted by a stranger? In reality this almost never happens, and you should teach your kids about safe ways to interact with strangers. Slip and bust open their knee? Teach them how to deal with wounds and they'll learn from the experience. Worse - a broken arm? Teach them how to get help when you're not around.

You can't be there 24/7, so you should prepare them for when you're not. And if they're prepared, you don't have to be there all the time. This is good for them and good for you.

My 2 year old is learning road safety and how to walk on the side of the street, but she's still safer when I'm with her because as an adult, I can understand things like getting hit by a car that I haven't experienced first-hand and I'm much less likely to get distracted by a cat or bird or whatever. Honestly on our street enough chickens and dogs and horses and tractors get out that I'm not actually worried about her getting hit, but she's also infatuated with irrigation canals and cannot swim, so I don't let her walk alone. I strongly disagree that this makes me a bad parent, despite your assertion that "she'll need to be autonomous someday, why not today?" Sure, she'll learn all this and more, but teaching takes time, and there's more to life than ensuring your kids could survive alone at the earliest possible age.

She still wants her mommy to kiss her knee when she scrapes it, my priority is not teaching her to clean and bandage a wound.

As I said - I intend to teach them to function on their own. I treat them like people rather than kids as much as possible.

That doesn't address the legal concerns.

> introduce them to the community

There's your problem right there. Community is way eroded these days. Kids have activities scheduled every waking minute, or sit inside on networked games, and neighborhoods are revolving doors.

I found one that's not like that but it was hard. It's not the default state of things like it used to be.

At least for young children, a parent is more likely to be accused of abuse for not knowing where they are at all times, in this day and age.

At first sight, I would too.[0] But thinking about it a little bit more, it is an easy way out.

[0] I actually have no kids.

A lot of things we do to children is child abuse and is swept away without concern. All the while the attitude that "children have no rights and I should be able to parent them the way I like" is prevalent, it's never gonna stop.

What's the practical alternative to parents parenting the way they like? The choices we make for our kids are almost surely different than the choices you make for yours and the many "theys" for the many "theirs". I think that's a feature of the system, not a bug.

That some parents make terrible choices is on them, not on society, IMO.

A comprehensive "this is how children are raised" law is not practical, but banning tracking your children with GPS is certainly possible (and Germany did it, per TFA). The more subtle parts are done with community engagement and gradual cultural shifts.

> banning tracking your children with GPS is certainly possible (and Germany did it, per TFA)

From TFA, I don't read the German ban as being a prohibition on GPS-based tracking, but rather on secretive audio eavesdropping being the problematic functionality.

Ah, so it seems.

Sadly many parents don't view their children as humans with independent rights. I realized that very quickly when I voiced in a debate that removal of parts of the genitalia of children without medical indication should be illegal. The parents are not okay with letting their children decide that when they are grown up.

I want my child to have as much autonomy as possible early on. Like before the age of 10 if she can ride her bike across town to her friends house or get on a bus to the mall or playground or library, I will be very happy.

The the automobile traffic terrifies me. Having the ability to see when she's safely off the road, or if she's stopped in a place that seems like it could be an accident could be the difference between me choosing to afford her all that freedom or not.

Also, I won't ask her to habitually carry any kind of traffic device without giving here equivalent visibility into my movements.

I find it hard to believe that this product exists. Can any of you imagine what it would have been like to grow up wearing a GPS tracker? What's next -- internet-connected chastity belts?

Good, teach children they're being tracked as early as possible. Turn them into good citizens of the surveillance state. Maybe we can share the data to some advertising companies, to improve their ads experience throughout the day. Turn them into good citizens of the consumerism state.

Edit: I'm sorry for the sarcasm, these kinds of products make me very sad.

Who is so delusional to think they are so superior to other humans as to think that the others should be constantly tracked and watched by them?

The damaging effects of that surveillance are similar to that of denied freedom of expression which heavily affects the thinking and development process of humans.

It's not logically sound to support freedom of expression and surveillance at the same time.

Helicopter parents.

And who said humans are logical? But even setting aside the delusional, the superior, and the illogical, the largest group are ignorant or apathetic.

I know it's cathartic to write people off as delusional, but I think it's more instructive to consider the behavioral science / game theory underlying peoples choices.

Surveillance cameras everywhere are bad enough, now we want to bug our children? This madness needs to end.

Watched people are not free people.

Does a child have a smartphone? Congratulations, they're being tracked everywhere they go.

Surveillance cameras are already in most infant's rooms and even sometimes cribs.

That's a bit of a special case. Infants don't understand the concept of privacy, and you're not ruining a baby's future childhood by keeping an eye on their breathing via private video feed. You can't really educate an infant into not spontaneously dying so they sort of need constant surveillance until they can think and speak on their own.

>Infants don't understand the concept of privacy

I'm not sure this is limited to infants, though I realize it isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. People don't realize how they're being tracked by the devices they carry around, or the kinds of data they're willingly giving up. And even if it is explained, it doesn't seem to sink in that there is a wide-open window into their lives through which certain entities can easily peer.

So you think SIDS can be effectively addressed by continuous visual monitoring? Do you remotely monitor their vitals as well?

I debate your point that you are not running their future; you're setting up the foundation for both parent and child that this is normal and to be expected. Also the assumption of privacy is tenuous given this experience and all the other terrible IoT implementations that have come to light

Surveillance cameras are already in most infant's rooms

Do you know this is true?

Or do you just... "think" it's true?

I think this poster is talking about baby monitors. The new ones let you view your kids from any phone or tablet on your account. With many of these devices, that image/audio gets sent to a remote server and then back to your house. Very few keep this information on your local network even if both devices are on the same Wi-Fi.

That is very troubling.


You've been posting a lot unsubstantive, uncivil, or flamebait comments. We've asked you already to please stop, and we'll ban the account if you won't.


If somebody doesn't want to influence you, they don't surveil you. The contraposition is more revealing; If somebody surveils you, then they do it to influence you.

Thank you for this. It's the natural extension of "you need to track what you want to change" at a personal level.

Which country has an "oppressive liberal government" at the moment?

From the time they get on the school bus and return home, they’re under surveillance. The majority of current-gen parents would expect this when their kids use public institutions.

HN view of privacy is quaint. The first cadre of post-911 and FB users must be 35-40 now, and they didn’t care.

Or you could just use it occasionally when you want to give your kids a bit more freedom than normal, but you're still a bit of a worrier. There is a state between complete lack of oversight and Black Mirror's Arkangel.

Why such a low opinion of children? A lot of us grew up in public schools, taught to conform, etc, and ... well, look how well we are conforming? No dissent here, not one bit ;-)

Funny how most of us who grew up on the internet that included crap like Ogrish, Bumfights, hardcore porn ads, Newgrounds, hentai, etc., turned into everyday citizens rather than low-lifes and criminals.

There's survivorship bias since low-lifes and criminals are less likely to be active here.

For one of the worst examples, the 'elf on a shelf' phenomena has now got utterly out of hand - https://www.google.com/search?tbm=shop&q=elf+santa+camera

Also teach them not to write fake reviews or any fakery on the iNet! Let's work to make the Internet great again....

This is a political article. If you're interested in the technicals read this linked one instead (far shorter, and actually talks about the technical problems in detail):


I think the mods should leave it pointed to the Hunt article since seems people want to discuss the politics more anyway.

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