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MSN chat stand is ‘nothing short of reckless’ – Freeserve

'PR coup...'

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Freeserve has lashed out MSN's handling of its decision to close it chatrooms, warning that its actions will simply send chatroom users underground.

And it says it would have worked with MSN to build an "industry-wide best practice" had the outfit been that concerned about the matter.

Britain's biggest ISP acknowledges that there are problems with chat but insists that shutting down such services is not the answer.

Here's Freeserve's stratement in full.

We are somewhat bemused that MSN has managed to pull off something of a PR coup with this announcement, whilst giving the impression of being respectable and responsible, our own view is that what they are doing is nothing short of reckless.

Chat is an intrinsic part of the Internet and it's not going to go away. We know about the problems of chat rooms but the answer is not shutting them down, it's about constantly looking at ways to make them safer for users, with parental controls, practical safety advice and moderation, especially in those areas targeted at the vulnerable.

Freeserve requires all our chat room users to register with us so we know who they are. On top of this, we invest in the moderation of our chat rooms for younger users so they always know there is someone in the chat room watching out for them and their safety.

All MSN is doing is sending chat room users underground. MSN's 1 million plus chat room users are not going to stop using chat, MSN are simply moving the problem elsewhere.

Had Freeserve been given the opportunity to consult with MSN on this issue, we could have worked with them to build industry wide best practice and we are surprised by MSN's move because we know that like Freeserve, they were already working with the Home Office on this.

Now Freeserve has got to anticipate a big increase in chat room usage when MSN's chat rooms shut down next month and we are already looking at new measures to manage this. ®

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