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Australian Union Fights Webcam Use in Child Care Centers

27 September 2000

An Australian union is campaigning against the impending spread of Web cameras into child care centers, saying they pose a security risk and jeopardize the privacy of workers and children alike.

The Child Care Workers' Union wants its members to report any employers considering installing the cameras.

Becoming more popular in the United States with wider Internet use, the Webcams give parents a chance to check up on or enjoy the activities of their toddlers while they're in care.

But some child care workers and the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union are opposing Internet cameras in child care centers.

"No other workers are under constant video surveillance by their clients," says Child Care Organiser Sue Deveraux. "There is also the issue of security - under this scheme, potentially anyone could get access to the Web page and view children in a center with a camera."

While centers in the US assure parents of secure, password-protected access, Deveraux says the Internet offers no guarantees and that the privacy rights of children and care workers to privacy would be compromised by such services.

A brief search of the Internet reveals many child care centers with Webcams.

Cybertots in the UK, at www.cybertots.co.uk, sensibly only provides access to Webcam updates to parents. The site also lets parents know what their kids are learning about this week and artwork is scanned and placed online.

Internet Kidz Daycare in the US, at www.internetkidz.org/, also requires Webcam viewers to have a child enrolled in the day care center and access is password-protected. It additionally limits sessions to 20 minutes and logs each visitor's Internet protocol (IP) address.

The Florida site says it has Webcams "so parents can view their child from work or home because we understand how important your children are to you."

Reported By Newsbytes, www.newsbytes.com.

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