US, UK and Australian police want to monitor chat rooms around the clock. According to the BBC, which is giving this lots of play on its radio news bulletins this morning, “one proposal is that a symbol may appear on computer screens to let chatroom users know that they are being overheard.”

Never mind (for now!) the civil liberties implications of having law enforcement listening in to public conversations without a warrant, or the enormous resources an undertaking like this would require. I think this is all a bit technologically naive. How is this proposed little icon going to be made to pop up? Will all possible chat clients have to be replaced to facilitate this? What type of “chatrooms” are we talking about? Will peer-to-peer chats like and instant-messaging be monitored? Would AOL and its ilk cooperate? What about chats originating outside these forces’ jurisdiction?