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Robots to hunt down paedophiles and stock manipulators

By enterfornone in News
Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:18:40 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

According to this story from Excite Australia, a Swiss based company has developed a robot (or spider) to trawl the web seeking out pedophiles and stock market gossips.

Next Saturday's New Scientist is claimed to be reporting "Rumorbot then locates and times each posting, drawing up a picture as to where a rumour or criminal act, conveyed over the Internet, may have started"


Searching for "kiddie porn" on the web is unlikely to come up with any actual kiddie porn. No doubt as technology such as RumorBot gains publicity, the paranoid will make it even harder. Can something like RumorBot possibly work?

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Robots to hunt down paedophiles and stock manipulators | 15 comments (6 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Nothing wrong with it. (3.00 / 3) (#2)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:37:41 AM EST

Okay, I don't like it, but since the data is publicly available, there's no reason these services should not exist. Well, other than decency perhaps.

I guess the only solution is to 1) Not get off on kiddie porn and 2) if you're going to post rumors that could get you in legal trouble and you are clearly in the world, create a throw-away alias; use a fake account with Netzero or a similar service and a completely randomly generated username, email address and password (that you will throw away immediately)
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I just read K5 for the articles.

well... (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by cbatt on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:39:01 AM EST

I don't think that this is a really big deal. It trawls the web, newsgroups, and chatrooms. So long as it doesn't invade private conversations (emails, or chat sessions), then I don't see a problem with it. If it crosses those lines, that's when it gets touchy.

I mean, you can spider those services all you want for anything you want anyways. They're public comm channels.

Anyways, as you said, simply spidering those services for those things is unlikely to turn up any real information. The really smart criminals won't be using them. But the dumb ones will get caught and that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside because their paranoid little brains actually turn up a turd every so often. Whoop! Life goes on.

-----------
Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

Okay. Um. HOW? (3.60 / 5) (#4)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:42:15 AM EST

First, I'd like to know how the robot will discern, say, some dork joking about kiddie-porn or someone browsing articles about the proliferation of kiddie porn or anything else from someone actually viewing, downloading or publishing child pornography? Second, what gives this company the right to play cop for the rest of the world?

Also, the "rumor" bot is pretty useless. While they can provide the earliest point of a rumor or other incident, it is only provable that it is the earliest point that THEY can detect in THEIR database. It in no way can be proven that it did not originate elsewhere (another poster, another site, another service, a dial-up BBS, a television show, a newspaper, an email correspondance, an AIM/ICQ/IRC chat session, etc).
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

Seems like it's worth a shot to me. (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by Christopher Thomas on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:37:25 AM EST

Searching for "kiddie porn" on the web is unlikely to come up with any actual kiddie porn. No doubt as technology such as RumorBot gains publicity, the paranoid will make it even harder. Can something like RumorBot possibly work?

Sure. Not perfectly by any stretch, but amongst the clutter it draws in will be a few legitimate wrongdoings.

Is this a solution to the Kiddie Porn Problem? Not at all. But it's still a cool-looking toy and a fun-looking project. Delving through public channels with something like this is the perfect way to play with neat data-mining algorithms while not really upsetting anybody. Find a few genuine criminals, and you might even get paid to do this.

The only threat I see is if a government (anywhere) takes this too seriously and tries to use it to catch all 'net criminals. They'd crank up the sensitivity and be flooded with false positives. However, the resulting mass of indignant lawsuits should put a stop to this quickly enough.

Kudos to the people who implemented this. It's fun and might even be useful.

Lovely article (3.33 / 3) (#12)
by dabadab on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:25:20 PM EST

  • It talks about something that sounds quite impossible and what in reality may be something between a scam and an idea of a clueless manager.
  • It reinforces the good old (and highly erroneous) belief that pedophiles make kiddie porn (pedofiles (by definition) love children and it is sure not the best way of showing your love to abuse and rape someone).

Seems like people can get away with talking any amount of BS in the tech industry (what's more, they even get coverage in the news).
--
Real life is overrated.

AP article worthless (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by mami on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:39:27 PM EST

Lousy article, would have hunted down the AP correspondent and asked him some questions. Even the headline is nonsense, if the robot hunts something at all, then it's the material at which potential pedophiles may eventually look at and even that is very unlikely to be the case. Nothing to discuss here.

Robots to hunt down paedophiles and stock manipulators | 15 comments (6 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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