To keep parents from prying into their cyber conversations, teenagers often type the popular lingo “POS,” warning of a “parent over shoulder.” Nowadays, the acronym might as well stand for “police over shoulder,” says the Hartford Courant. Police in Connecticut and across the country are surfing popular websites, such as MySpace.com, trolling for threatening language, pornography or drug and alcohol use. And they are making arrests based on teen banter and digital pictures snapped by kids, most of whom have no clue the police are watching.
Police can even use a software program that searches for such keywords as “kill” or “gun.” Civil liberties groups are carefully watching the cyber policing, saying they are concerned that such scrutiny could trample free speech and privacy rights. “I think it is appropriate to say in many cases, law enforcement is being overzealous with young people who are exercising their right to free speech,” said Roger Vann, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.