FBI deploys sophisticated new child porn investigation tools

FBI deploys sophisticated new child porn investigation tools

An FBI agent put his computer science background to work developing a new software suite to help investigators efficiently parse through hard drive data in child pornography investigations. The new programs will help the FBI pursue increasingly effective sex crimes prosecutions.

Child pornography investigations are often slow and cumbersome because technicians must painstakingly search through the contents of a suspect’s computer. Lengthy backlogs can add more time to the process as individual investigations began to accumulate.

The FBI’s new tools dramatically reduce the time needed to search for evidence. The software, operating off of a portable jump drive, quickly scans computers to locate relevant files. Just as importantly, it also translates computer data into meaningful information that investigators can use without turning to highly skilled technicians. A number of undisclosed features further inform and guide investigations.

Given the software’s deep-searching abilities, it is likely that law enforcement could expand its uses to crimes other than child pornography. For example, one feature can automatically alert investigators to a suspect’s presence on a chat room. The rest of the program could then search for evidence of incriminating online conversations with a minor.

Despite the increased efficiencies, authorities must still seek and receive a search warrant (or a suspect’s consent) before using the software.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, “Salt Lake City FBI agent changes how child sex crimes are investigated,” Cimaron Neugebahr, Aug. 26, 2012

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