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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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RE: Point
By Christopher1 on 10/21/2006 11:28:13 PM , Rating: 1
Bingo, that's the thing. You should ALWAYS tell your child that if they want to meet someone online offline, they should tell you and YOU WILL GO WITH THEM.

The problem is that parents automatically hear "online friend who wants to meet in real life" and think "Oh NOOOOOOOO! He/she's a sex demon!"

I had that happen recently with a 13 year old girl who I was chatting with who just happen to live near me. I told her that if she wanted to meet in real life that she should tell her parents and have them come with her to our meeting.
Never heard anything back because I made that stipulation that I wasn't going to meet her without her parents.


RE: Point
By ElJefe69 on 10/23/2006 10:22:17 AM , Rating: 1
what kid wants to meet someone online who isnt going to get their rocks off?

I think everyone that goes to meet someone of the opposite sex has sex on their minds above the age of 13. It's just not right though and irresponsible and evil of the older person.

subconscious and relational desires vs safety/violence/reality


RE: Point
By Wwhat on 10/26/2006 10:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
Actually there are many lonely people behind computers that don't seek sex but human companionship and friendship and many that actually seek love, and many that actually have pleasant (or passable) experiences meeting people in real life they met online.
The world is not all the media makes it out to be, nor is it like the penthouse makes it out to be, those use the vehicle of exaggeration and focus on rare occurances you know.
Perhaps you need to examine yourself if you think a person can only think in terms of raw sex? talk to some people that can help you about it and see if there's not some methods to calm you down and enable you to have normal emotional interaction with people.

The internet is predominantly occupied with normal average people, with all their faults yes but still not maniacs for that.


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