Monday, October 16, 2006

Prowling for Predators on MySpace

Blogma reports:
Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., recently caught a registered sex offender trolling for underage boys on MySpace, thanks to some code written by former hacker and current Wired editor Kevin Poulsen. Poulsen wrote an automated script that scanned the social networking site for predators, using data taken from the web site of the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Registry. Poulsen claims to have so far, including found 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles; 497 who have been registered for sex crimes against children. MySpace has come under fire for not doing enough to protect children; the company recently announced a safety campaign to help children wise up online. Bloggers wondered if robot cops could be the answer to at least some of the company's problems.
Guardian Technology Blog -- "Of course, there's nothing illegal about a convicted criminal having a MySpace profile, but previously the site has said it can't keep control over its members. And the fact that offending registers in other countries - such as Britain - aren't available in the same way as those in the US, means it's hardly out of the bounds of imagination to expect that the number of sex offenders active on the site is much greater."