Feeds

Software hunts for Net paedos

Nanniebots take the Turing test

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Software agents that mimic the behaviour of real children are been used to detect paedophile grooming behaviour on the Internet.

Called ChatNannies, the technology is the brainchild of IT consultant Jim Wightman, of Wolverhampton in the UK. The software runs with thousands of sub-programs - dubbed nanniebots - which log onto chatrooms and make conversations with youngsters there.

While engaging in pop-culture inanities, the program analyses the behaviour of other participants in a chat room looking for tell-tale signs of grooming or slip-ups that suggest a user is an adult and not the child he might claim to be.

The software emails suspicious conversations to Wrightman, who screens theses messages prior to passing details of suspect users (IP address etc.) and transcripts over to the police.

We imagine the software generated plenty of false positives, particular when the technology was first used.

Wightman told New Scientist his tip-offs have led to police investigations, though this remains unconfirmed, perhaps unsurprisingly. It's standard police practice (at least in the UK) not to talk publicly about active investigations.

No-one has detected the bots, Wightman added. Given the short duration and limited scope of chat room conversations this is plausible.

ChatNannies uses a neural network program build up knowledge and refine their responses. Each of the bots is programmed to display distinct "personalities". The technology is capable of updating itself with pop culture trivia gleaned from the Internet.

Wightman doesn't want to sell his software or turn his technology into a business. However he would welcome financial support for government-run child protection bodies so that he can expand his system beyond four servers at his work. ®

Related stories

Watch out! There's a chatroom paedophile about
Pervert! You're using the Internet
Govt unveils Web kids safety campaign
Paedophile gets five-year net ban
UK Net paedo crackdown bags 600

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.