Tech To Snoop On Texting, Cell Phone Calls

A new program enables parents to read text messages and e-mails their kids are sending and receiving, and to monitor their cell phone calls.

TextGuard, explained CNET-TV Senior Editor Natali Del Conte (CNET is a partner of CBS on The Early Show Wednesday, also gives parents the capability of blocking such traffic, should they decide a sender is an undesirable influence. It's also marketed to employers looking to keep tabs on employees.

Del Conte also offered details on Loopt, a program that enables parents to follow their kids on a map, to know whether they're really at the library, or off doing something else! Loopt takes advantage of the GPS tracking devices built into most cell phones. It's also being used as a social networking tool, so kids can know where there friends are, etc.

These programs are a small part of a growing market of security and monitoring software that gives users more and more access to private lives, and that some say could be an invasion of privacy, Del Conte points out.

She told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez most parents whose opinions she sampled in New York's Central Park said they'd have no problem using such software.

"I was surprised," Del Conte said. "I learned about this software and I thought, 'Ooh, civil liberties issue.'"

"I guess we're all sneakier than we tend to admit to ourselves!" Del Conte said.

How does TextGuard work?

"You download a program on a cell phone," Del Conte said. "And right now, it only works with BlackBerry or Windows Mobile. And you go to the Internet and you set up an account, and you track as many numbers as you want. So, when you log onto the Website, you can see all activity: You can read all text messages, ingoing and outgoing, you can also read e-mails, and call logs, and see mobile browsing history, so (you can) see what someone else is maybe surfing online.

"It's a new technology. I don't find it super-easy to download the program on the phone, but the website is really easy to navigate. Basically, you just click the number and say what's been going on there."

Will kids know their cell phones have a knowing eye on them?

"They probably will know, because it's an application. But it's a question of -- you're probably paying for that phone, so you have the right to put whatever application on that phone that you want -- maybe!"

Del Conte added that TextGuard costs "about $11 a month for a specific amount of data. And then, if they're sending more and you're keeping that data, it costs a little more."