Net monitor exposes users' online actions

Big Brother is watching you surf

A French Internet company reckons it's devised the ultimate research tool to find out what people are really doing online. NetValue has teamed up with information provider Taylor Nelson Sofres to develop a monitoring system that is completely invisible to ordinary users. Once the software is installed it monitors every single keystroke a user makes, recording the online habits of those who've volunteered to be scrutinised so closely. Freeserve, Trinity Mirror Group, Microsoft and Yahoo! are among a number of companies queuing up to subscribe to NetValue's research. Although the under-the-microscope survey has only been running for a month or so in the UK, NetValue has come up with some interesting stats. For instance, 98.9 per cent of those surveyed in the UK use the Net to access the Web; 11.3 per cent inhabit chat rooms; 40.5 per cent loiter around newsgroups and 21.6 per cent indulge in instant messaging. Despite the 'Big Brother' approach, Alki Manian, NetValue's UK and Ireland MD, says that this approach provides a true picture of what people are really doing on the Net. As proof, he said around half of all Web sites visited were adult sites. Could this be a cyber form of exhibitionism? ®

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