ComputerCOP has found its way into homes across the country through law enforcement giveaways. Sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys, and other officials have purchased the software in bulk and distributed it to the public as part of their outreach initiatives.
At least 245 police agencies in 35 states had purchased and distributed ComputerCOP; at least four agencies had spent $25,000 on the software within the past two years.
ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.
The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.
By providing a free keylogging program—especially one that operates without even the most basic security safeguards—law enforcement agencies are passing around what amounts to a spying tool that could easily be abused by people who want to snoop on spouses, roommates, or co-workers.
ComputerCOP may actually may make your family's data less safe.
EFF discovered misleading marketing material, including a letter of endorsement purportedly from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which has now issued a fraud alert over the document. ComputerCOP further claims an apparently nonexistent endorsement by the American Civil Liberties Union and an expired endorsement from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The list is based primarily on a map that appears on ComputerCOP's own website, which EFF attempted to verify one-by-one through news articles, press releases and other online public records. EFF also added a few that we found that weren't on the map.
Not all versions of ComputerCOP contain the keylogger, but noted when they were able to verify that the software contained that feature.
In many cases, ComputerCOP listed agencies on its map that EFF was unable to independently verify through online records searches.
Weymouth Police Department - In 2007, a Weymouth police officer handed out free copies of ComputerCOP to everyone in attendance at a Catholic elementary school's Parent Teacher Organization meeting. Source.
Further agencies listed on ComputerCOP's map: Essex County District Attorney's Office, Peabody Police Department.
Reality: ComputerCop is dangerous to you & your family if you use it!