back to article Spyware mum foils pervert

Keylogging software helped a UK mum warn police about a US-based predator who was grooming her 15-year-old son for child abuse. Jason Bower, 26, of Hudson Falls, New York, was arrested as he boarded a plane en route to meet the teenager in England last November. In court on Wednesday, Bower pleaded guilty to "engaging in …


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  1. Aram

    And if she was in Germany?

    A happy ending; of that there's no doubt. But, if this were in Germany (with the recent law passed on hacking, etc.), would the perv be able to wriggle out of the clutches of the law?

    One would hope that the German courts would see sense on this issue and punish him all the same, leaving the mother "to get away with it".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This raises two issues:

    In a year's time, he'd be "legal" anyway. Couldn't our American pal have waited for that?

    Secondly, is it really ethical to spy on your 15-year-old son like that? How long did she intend to keep doing that?

  3. Chris Collins


    What I'm curious about is did the boy want a bumming or not? I can't really see 15-year-olds as innocent little babies and his mum was obviously suspicious of his browsing habits. Perhaps he was just after a shag. The internet provides.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this should be encouraged....

    Criminals wanting your sensitive data shouldn't use them, worried parents should. i think this woman was pretty clever to sort this out and catch someone who could have caused a real problem for her son and others. i hope that she isnt called into question regarding the software because i think she did a pretty smart thing! im not a parent but if i was i imagine me using something like this just to make sure my innocent child would not come to harm!

  5. Test Man

    Last sentence

    That last sentence

    "The type of keylogging software used by the UK mum in this case, or how she got a hold of it, remains unclear."

    is obviously an attempt at trying to insinuate that the mum might have engaged in shady activities to obtain and put keylogger on machine or might be a crook herself. Tthe very presence of that sentence is structured in such a way that implication is cast in the reader's mind, mainly because it's in the same paragraph as a sentence that mentions keyloggers are used by crooks.

    There are many legit keylogger apps being sold, such as AceSpy, which she could've easily have bought and used from online or retail shops. So therefore, I don't even think the last paragraph should've even be put there, especially as it's deliberately vague enough to not accuse her without any evidence, but enough is there to cast a (bad) link.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm not sure where to stand on this subject.

    I feel very happy that he was caught and that little or no harm was done, but I really don't like the way 'mom' handled it. Perhaps if she (and the father, if any) would actually spend some time with the son and teach him how to use the web safely, it could be avoided without killing off his privacy.

    From a previous el reg article:

    "Garlik's top tips for parents

    *Keep internet-connected computers in a central and open location, particularly for younger children.

    *Sit down and talk to your children about their online activity. You should know everyone on your children's contact list.

    *For younger kids, make sure you know all their passwords. *Don't intrude, but let them know that you know, just in case.

    *Tell your children not to provide personal details online. No full names, addresses, or telephone numbers.

    *Devise a code of conduct - list of internet rules - that you and your children agree to sign up to."

    Sounds a lot more reasonable than planting spyware on the plods computer.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roll your own!

    A mum like that probably got some skills anyway. Wouldn't doubt she could write her own tools.

    I say, good story this!

  8. JimC

    Tecah him how to use the web safely?

    > Perhaps if she (and the father, if any) would actually spend some time with

    > the son and teach him how to use the web safely

    Have you had much experience of 15 year old boys? A substantial percentage of the male 15 year old population would, shall we say, not be amenable to being taught how to use the web safely by their parents...

  9. Dillon Pyron

    You want keyloggers?

    You want keyloggers? I've got plenty. Some you tell what machine (by IP address) to send the data to (sort of a /var/log/daemon thing). Others log to a file on the local machine in an encrypted form. Some are USB devices that you connect between the keyboard and the machine (4GB is an awful lot of keystrokes). I've even got a keyboard that records and plays back. All acquired from legit sources. Except in Germany. And I've used them for similar purposes, catching crooks (although usually locally). Like catching a guy who was sending encrypted email (gets by the filters) with sensitive data.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmmm!

    >> In a year's time, he'd be "legal" anyway. Couldn't our American pal have waited for that?

    More precisely, he would be legal in less than a year's time. Although in the New York the age of consent is 17, so the web offence might still have stood, even if he had waited a year.

    It would be interesting to know if he was aware other the teenager's age (it's a bit difficult to check ID over a webcam).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Have you had much experience of 15 year old boys? A substantial percentage >of the male 15 year old population would, shall we say, not be amenable to >being taught how to use the web safely by their parents...

    Perhaps they should start teaching a bit earlier than 15..

    I don't see why web safety shouldn't be taught at school (but lets not forget the responsibility of the parents)

  12. Rolf

    Missing the point?

    "Pervert"? What kind of crass, tabloid unenlightened reporting is this?

    Grooming? Typical of the stupidity of the masses. The British male and the American male wanted to hook up; no one else's business. Think of the poor kid - just trying to have fun, make friends, and enjoy sex and life - and gets hauled through the brutal system of police and social workers - if anything is going to screw up his life, that will. His mother deserves to die.

  13. kain preacher

    age of concent

    in most states the age of consent is 16 UNLESS the adult is more than five years older. him being 16 and the guy 28 would mean the guy is going to jail

  14. Macka

    UK Homosexual age of consent

    Some of you are mistakenly assuming that the age of consent in the UK for homosexual sex is the same as heterosexual sex. It's not; it's 18 not 16.

    As for Rolf's comment: man you're in irresponsible idiot, and probably dangerous to boot. If you've not already had kids (god help them if you have) then you deserve to have your nuts removed before you can do any damage.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, but this is England...

    ... and our age of consent is 16 for everyone.

    This whole viewing of the man as some sort of kiddie-snatcher is a bit far but he still shouldn't have done it!

    And as for whether she was right or not... yes and no. The Internet is a lot safer than people have made out. I started using chatrooms when I was around 12 and while not everything I did on there was appropriate, it was all my choice. That's the perk of the 'net... no one can make you do anything!

    Parents should be engaging their kids rather than locking them up. If they tried to understand that the world is a bit different now, often for the better rather than fearing it, then maybe they'd get somewhere!

  16. Vera Smart

    Age of Consent UK


    You are dead wrong:

    "The law means that for the first time in British legal history, the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual men and women is now 16 in England, Wales and Scotland and 17 in Northern Ireland - equalising the age for all. "

  17. T Fillmore

    She did the right thing

    I would have done the same thing and I have four kids.

    It's not about 'spying' on your kids, it's about being a responsible parent. To me knowing what your child is doing online is no different than knowing who their friends are - all this talk about how a 15 year old knows what he/she is actually doing is wishful thinking at best, _especially_ when it comes to sex (think of all the unwed mothers whose children are being raised by a grandparent).

    What the mom did showed responsibility, courage, dignity and love for her child. What the authorities will do to the 'adult' shows respect for all the other children.

  18. christopher

    Legal responsibility

    The legal responsibility of activities on the family computer can only lay with the owner.

    The parent had every right to install key logging software on 'her' system.

    This is purely by legal definition, however she would have to notify anyone in the household who she is not responsible for & uses the computer that such monitoring is in place and it its purpose.

    In this case because the child is under 16 she did everything within the confines of the law.

    Free and clear.

    The man from New York clearly has issues. No one should resort to intercontinental travel for companionship.

  19. Steven Collins

    Are we all forgetting something very basic here?

    The Internet never was, isn't and never will be a place for children.

  20. James Cleveland


    What she did was pretty cool. Naturally I would have removed such a thing, but then if I was a parent I'd use something network based like ettercap or ethereal and a filter.

  21. Rui Ribeiro

    "spyware" mom?

    IMO you guys are mixing people head´s up, as if there is not too much disinformation on this subjects.

    Spyware is software that is installed in the computer by some malicious means, most of the time without any user of that computer knowing that or doing that knowingly. The application or application the mother in question installed were installed with intent, and I doubt very much they qualify as such.

    Calling this applications security tools, snooping tools, cracker tools, or even the also incorrect hacker tools, would be a far much instructive posture.


    Rui Ribeiro

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy at 15? Leave it Out.

    "Secondly, is it really ethical to spy on your 15-year-old son like that?"

    Of course it is. The boy is 15. The other chap was 28. Would the other chap have popped round to see the 15 year old's Father to introduce himself?

    Why not?

  23. Azrael

    I'm disgusted

    Honestly, I'd glad this worked out for the best, and her son is safe, but I'd disgusted by the invasion of privacy.

    Everyone seems to think that she was just being the "responsible parent" and should know what he's doing online, just like they should know who his real life friends are. Or she has the right, since it's her computer. Rubbish!

    Recording what he's doing on the computer, to read at a later date without his knowledge is spying. That may be legal for her to do, but it is *NOT* the equivalent of knowing who his friends are. It's the equivalent of hiding a microphone and camera in his bedroom before his friends come over. Or before his girlfriend (if he has one) comes over.

    Or do you ask to be introduced to the friends? Ask them to spend their time in the lounge room, instead of closed in the bedroom? Or to keep the bedroom door open? Everyone has their own parenting style, but still...

    She happened to unveil a crime, but unless there was good reason to believe that a crime was happening before, this sort of invasion of privacy disgusts me. I don't care that it happened to be her own child who's privacy she was invading. If I had discovered my parents spying on me like this when I was 15, that would have seriously shaken my trust in them.

  24. Jason Togneri

    Re: "spyware" mom?`

    Rubbish. Spyware is software which spies on users - if you deliberately install spyware on your computer or if a 'hacker' installs spyware on somebody else's computer without knowledge or consent, either way it's still spyware. It is a definition of what it *is*, not what the installer's intent may be, and to believe otherwise is foolish. You can spy on yourself or your family as well as an outsider can, because everyone has secrets, even husbands and wives and children.

    As for this circumstance, firstly I agree about 15-year-old boys, especially when on the internet - you can't expect them to be sensible or to listen to good advice, as a general rule. Furthermore, this man obviously had some problem if he had to travel internationally to have sex with an underage child - this woman was simply protecting her child, as is her role. Only if she spied on him as a matter of course would I be worried, but this was clearly an act of love.

  25. Jon Lawrence

    privacy - not in my house.

    I'm a parent and I can tell you that if I want to monitor exactly what is done on computers in my house then I will.

    Computers aren't allowed in bedrooms - end of story.

    I pay for the computers and I pay for the internet connection, that gives me a legal responsibility to ensure they are used legally. If that means that I need to 'spy' on what they are used for then so be it.

    The safety of my kids comes before everything else - even their right to privacy. Though I won't go as far as putting cameras in the bedrooms, there are camera's covering the network points within the house.

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  27. Mick


    To all you progressive liberals, who were never blessed with responsible parents...

    Parents *are* accountable for raising their children - that includes watching what they do - disciplining (i.e. correcting and mentoring) the child's actions as a work in progress.

    In most Sates, parents, even non-custodial parents, are accountable for their children until age 18.

    Yes, any human who preys on children IS a pervert.

    Kudos for the Mom - and raspberries to the US justice system for only considering a five-year sentence for the pervert. He would have received a stiffer penalty for smoking a bong.

    Jails are full of perverts and criminals who see themselves as "free-thinkers." Despite one's upbringing, the adult always has the opportunity to learn positive nurturing.

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