MS Opens Source to Catch Pedophiles

An open source system that helps find connections between cases of child exploitation, known as the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS), was officially launched Thursday. Jointly developed by Microsoft Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Toronto Police Service, the system has already helped to catch criminals.

In November 2004, while the project was still in beta, it found a link between a case in Toronto, as well as two separate cases by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in the United States. This allowed Toronto police to charge a man for taking inappropriate pictures of a child and distributing them online.

"Our vision is to support more effective child-exploitation policing by enabling collaboration and information sharing across police services," says David Hemler, president of Microsoft Canada. "The tracking system will serve as a repository of information and will also be used as an investigative tool."

The users of the system heaped praise on it and say it is making their jobs much easier, and the system is catching things they are not.

"CETS is a great tool for information management," says Corporal Garry Belair, technology manager with the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Center. "CETS puts together the work of hundreds of police agencies in one place. The tool can establish links from the different agencies that police wouldn't necessarily make."

It was not immediately made clear if Microsoft plans to take the system across the border and help to implement it in the United States.

Paul Gillespie, a detective with the Toronto Police Service, applauded Microsoft's moves. "The product has exceeded my wildest dreams. I have also been impressed by Microsoft Canada and their passion to do the right thing. I am overwhelmed with their sense of responsibility."

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