Helping find missing persons by using the internet


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And organisers said the results were astounding: leads were generated every 10 minutes the competing teams worked. Police overseas have used crowdsourcing in the past for help with isolated cases, aided by these largely voluntary "open-source intelligence" OSINT enthusiasts.

But Linda Cavanagh, of the Canberra Cyber Security Innovation Node, said the Australian event was the first of its kind to be deployed on a national scale. Participants included information-security hobbyists, cyber-security professionals, corporate teams, and "just generally members of the community and students". Its techniques are used in intelligence agencies but also by a growing army of hobbyists and professionals, such as private investigators.

The art of OSINT shot to prominence last month when it was used to verify a video revealing the mass detention and allegedly brutal treatment of the Uyghur community in western China, which Chinese officials had denied. An analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Nathan Ruser, explained how he had been able to check when and where the footage was taken by comparing details such as plant growth and building shadows with public satellite images. Other techniques include mining the vast amount of information posted on social media and the simplest but most-used tool in the OSINT arsenal: Google searches.

Dan Holman, a co-founder of Canberra-based business WorldStack, has long used OSINT methods to find people who were missing or hiding — for example, to serve them court documents. He said his business, which relies solely on analysing public information, also helped an organisation recently find a cyber-attacker who stole sensitive data and tried to hold it to ransom. The firm detected the data immediately after it was published, allowing it to issue a "take-down" notice to the host website.

Search form

Mr Holman's business has built a search index of content on the "dark web" — a network of hidden, encrypted websites, sometimes used to organise illegal activity — and hoped to use image-matching software to help find some of the 12 missing people. Topics: science-and-technology , computers-and-technology , hacking , community-and-society , missing-person , security-intelligence , internet-culture , information-and-communication , canberra , act.

First posted October 12, More stories from Australian Capital Territory. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC.


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  7. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content. Read about our editorial guiding principles and the standards ABC journalists and content makers follow.

    Police turn to hackers in Australia's first crowdsourced attempt to find missing people

    Learn more. A woman living in the trailer park, in Morgan Hill, Calif. She befriended the younger boy, a sullen 4-year-old with brown hair who was prone to temper tantrums. But she could extract only his first name: Jonathan. On impulse, she went on the Internet and found a Web site, www. She clicked on Search for Child Photos and typed in Jonathan.

    A page of missing Jonathans appeared -- a toddler with a clip-on bow tie; a darkly handsome teenager; the boy from the trailer park, dressed in a tomato-red turtleneck with a glint in his eye. That glint had dulled. Jonathan Kenderes and his brother, Andrew, had been taken nine months earlier, in July , by their father, who had lost custody of his sons during a divorce.


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    6. They had moved from trailer park to trailer park, never staying more than a few days. The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, called the police. That night, the father was arrested for kidnapping and custodial interference.

      Report and Identify Missing Persons

      The mother, Elizabeth Norton, flew out from New York the next morning. Norton said. Economists debate whether technology has increased productivity. Sociologists argue whether instant communication has improved or damaged the quality of life.

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      But technology has had a quantifiable impact in at least one area: it is helping to bring home thousands of missing children. The recovery rates for the most serious missing-children cases have jumped sharply in the last decade, an increase that experts attribute mostly to advances in computer and communication technology. In , about 62 percent of kidnapped children and runaways whose safety was considered seriously threatened were recovered safely, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nationwide clearinghouse, which handles 6, to 7, such cases a year. Now the recovery rate is about 93 percent.

      The rate for all cases reported to the police, which includes those in which the child was merely separated from a parent for several hours, is more than 99 percent. The improvement is even greater among the 5 percent of cases in which the kidnapper is not a family member.

      One Woman is Tracking Thousands of Missing People (Autism is Her Superpower) - Digital Detectives

      Before , the recovery rate for such cases was about 35 percent. Since then, the recovery rate has been about 90 percent, the center reported. Allen said. And it has enabled us to analyze that lead information and get it to law enforcement.

      Free Online Resources For Finding Missing Persons Using Social Media | Subliminal Pixels

      In other words, it helps to have magnets when looking through a haystack. Weifeng's father Yu Xingquan and mother Rong Muhuan searched numerous cities but found no trace of their boy. The emotional dad said at the reunion: "We're also very grateful to his foster parents for raising him for 18 years. From now on, his foster father will become like a brother to me; my son will have two dads. Futian police said they were still investigating details of the kidnapping, with no arrests announced so far.

      Weifeng himself did not reveal whether he had asked his adoptive parents for the truth about his past. It is also unclear whether Tencent planned to make the AI technology available to police across China. I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible.

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