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Wednesday, August 4th
PC Tattletale markets itself as computer monitoring software that is simple to install, records everything a user does, and lets you view their activity in detail, even remotely.
PC Tattletale seems to cater to two types of purchasers: employers and families. For employers, the draw would be to watch every detail of every activity the employee does on the computer, without the employee being informed of the monitoring. This way, an employer can see whether the employee is looking for another job, stealing, following instructions, taking longer breaks than usual, browsing unapproved websites, playing games, or watching videos when they ought to be working.
For family users, PC Tattletale lets parents monitor their kids to see if they're being cyberbullied, playing too many video games, watching violent or pornographic YouTube videos, starting secret profiles and sharing inappropriate photos, as well as seeing who they're chatting with and sending email to.
The approach PC Tattletale takes is reactive. It has nothing to do with filtering (to prevent inappropriate activities before they occur) and only focuses on catching someone in the act and addressing the problem after the fact. While this may be the preferred approach of some families and employers, the approach is rather fear-based. There are a lot of good reasons to choose internet filtering and monitoring software that is not based on fear alone.
In researching this software, we wanted to know more from a pre-sales perspective about how the software actually functions, which options are available, and troubleshooting steps should something go wrong. Most software vendors have a support or help section that explains these things to anonymous visitors. PC Tattletale has this content available only to users having accounts and not people casually browsing their website to educate themselves before buying.
After signing up for a free account, which includes 7 free days of monitoring, we were able to find a little more support and help information as well as set up a device for free. Devices supported include Windows, Android or Kindle, and iPhone or iPad. Mac OS computers were not supported. For the free trial, some features are disabled until you upgrade.
The account overview screen shows the plan selected, days available of recording time under the trial, account identity information, and a button to close the account. A dashboard screen shows which devices have the software installed.
Once the software is installed, the user will not see the name "PC Tattletale" anywhere on their computer. The most they'll see is a reference to "Security Services", which seems fairly routine and innocuous to most users. For the administrator to be able to remove the software, they must run a removal tool which exposes the true location and name of the software for uninstallation.
Viewing activity remotely is just a matter of signing into the PC Tattletale members area online. You will see a screen split into two sections: a video and a bar graph showing click activity throughout the day. It also records keystrokes and displays them in a video overlay as they occur. This is potentially a privacy and legal concern for employees who have, whether for personal reasons or as a matter of their job duties, entered sensitive health information into their computers during the workday as they set doctor appointments or deal with health insurance information.
It appears that installing the software does leave certain traces in the user's Microsoft Edge browser such as cookies, browsing history, and cached data and files, and the setup file that must be deleted manually when uninstalling the software.
Once you have a paid account, you'll be able to take advantage of live monitoring and GPS tracking features.
Other questions we had, like whether the software works with multiple browsers or only with the decreasingly popular Microsoft Edge browser, remain unanswered by the support materials.
We have several concerns with this approach to monitoring, especially in absence of any filtering capabilities. Because PC Tattletale is reactive rather than proactive and has no options for filtering based on keywords or URLs, we suggest you look to other vendors if you want to build relationships of trust with your computer users or prevent unwanted behaviors proactively. However, it may be that there are situations that call for reactive exposure of a user's behaviors. Corporations may want to think twice about using this software for legal reasons and may even want to block it for security and intellectual property reasons so as to prevent non-authorized users from installing it on other employees' computers and spying on them.
Internet Filters are more important now than ever. One of the very first things to make its way to the Internet was pornography and other offensive content. Because pornography companies are privately held, nobody knows for sure how much revenue the porn industry generates. However, estimates range from $5 billion to as much as $97 billion per year, with a social cost much higher than that.
It might be surprising to know that websites displaying porn get more traffic than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. Every week there are thousands of new porn sites created, with a nearly uncountable number of porn sites today. The best internet filters can block these sites, because this is a problem that is not going away anytime soon.
Fortunately, internet filter programs exist to keep objectionable content away from innocent children. These programs each have a unique way of dealing with this difficult challenge.
There are a number of factors to consider when shopping for an internet filter. Some of these include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best internet filters available today. We hope this information helps you protect you and your family right away!
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