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Perl script used to sniff out sex offenders leads to arrest

By using 1000 lines worth of code over several Perl scripts, former hacker and currrent Wired editor Kevin Poulsen was able to identify 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles. 497 MySpace users are registered for sex crimes against children, with six of them listed as repeat offenders. At least 243 of the 497 have convictions in 2000 or later. Poulsen reveals in a Wired article how he helped to indentify and catch a known sex offender who was preying upon young boys through MySpace.

"In May, I began an automated search of MySpace's membership rolls for 385,932 registered sex offenders in 46 states, mined from the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Registry website -- a gateway to the state-run Megan's Law websites around the country," Poulsen wrote. "I searched on first and last names, limiting results to a five mile radius of the offender's registered ZIP code."

The code that Kevin Poulsen quickly wrote was far from perfect and turned up many false or unverifiable matches. Poulsen then worked part-time to sift through the data and manually compare photographs, ages and other data.

"For every profile with warning signs, I found eight without," he continued. "In many cases, the sex offender's MySpace profile is a window into a seemingly normal life: Their comment board is innocent; their image gallery contains a wedding photo or two; the underage friends on their list, if they have any, turn out to be relatives, or adults lying about their age to game MySpace's old security model -- in which only 14- and 15 year-olds enjoyed private profiles."

The result of all that work culminated on October 2, 2006 when New York's Suffolk County Police Department apprehended 39-year-old Andrew Lubrano, who now faces his his fourth arrest for a sex crime over the last 20 years.

Today, Kevin Poulsen is releasing to the public the code he wrote that helped to identify sex offenders on MySpace. The download link may be found here, along with a few pages of explanation on exactly how the code works.

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i dont get it...
By bobdelt on 10/21/2006 1:07:40 PM , Rating: 3
Is it illegal for sex offenders to have a myspace account? or have friends? Even the article said almost all underage people turned out to be relatives. Why can't they use myspace?

Not all sex offenders are bloody rapist and murders. A simple indesent exposure can get you labled as a sex offender.

P.S. I'm not a sex offender.

RE: i dont get it...
By cubby1223 on 10/21/2006 5:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it either. These stories make it out to sound like myspace's existance is only for teenagers and sexual predators. Gee, a registered sex offender could call a teenager on the telephone, oh my god, we need to ban phone services for all registered sex offenders! Gotta ban them for using the mail because teenagers receive mail too. Gotta ban them from all public places because teens can be there too.

Basically, we just need to lock up all the sex offenders in prison for life so there's no conceivable way they could have access to a teenager. That's definately the solution. Wonder how they get off the hook in the first place...

RE: i dont get it...
By Christopher1 on 10/21/2006 11:34:08 PM , Rating: 1
Uh.... right. Put them in jail forever for consensual sexual acts (which most cases of 'child sexual abuse' are). That is not fair at all.

Sexual offender is a loaded term that makes it seem like you are a frothing at the mouth, Jack the Ripper wannabe, who would force someone into a sexual act.

On the contrary. Most 'child sexual offenders' are people who are arrested for consensual sexual acts with children or teenagers that the parents find out about, and are upset over, not because they are protecting their children, but because they are worried that their children will get pregnant and it will impact on THEIR life.
There are the few like the Megan Kanka killer, but they are very rare and are usually driven to their acts by sexual frustration and need.
Something that the laws THEMSELVES create, and make it MORE dangerous for children.

Most adult sexual offenders are arrested for raping a woman, when there is little evidence to show that rape actually took place other than fluids in the woman in question.
Women, girls, men and boys do lie about being raped, yet we do not make a lie-detector test for any victim of sexual assault a required thing.
I've had 2 of my closest friends arrested for rape, and both of them aquitted because the woman's prior boyfriends have come out and said that they tried the "Cry Rape!" ploy with them, and it didn't work.

RE: i dont get it...
By ElJefe69 on 10/23/2006 10:26:49 AM , Rating: 1
yeah well the registered ones have served time in prison. The bleeding hearts out there bleed for those who they want to bleed for. People forget to realize that when a person complies with sentencing and serves their time, they are no longer a guilty person when they exit the prison if they filled all of their time and are not on parole.

It is true that these people are probably sick bastards, but like i said way down on this list, the vast majority of repeat offenders are family members and never get "registered"

Also, last time i checked, myspace was a place to look at bands, showcase talents of whatever level, and hookup with big tittied plastic looking girls with fake tans.

wheres the 12 year old kid in that equation?

parents are morons

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