It all started when Rob Sell, a professional search and rescue tracker who also worked in computer security, became frustrated at how nobody was looking for many of the thousands of missing people. He decided to found Trace Labs, a project which uses crowdsourcing to enlist the efforts of hackers worldwide to find them. They select missing persons cases and then award hackers points for finding information on the missing people, creating a computer forensics competition for a cause. One great opportunity is going to hacking conferences like BSIDES and DEFCON and holding events where hackers there try their hand at finding the whereabouts of missing people. It’s part of a new movement towards OSINT, or Open Source Intelligence. The primary tool is searching online and using the dark web for digital fingerprints – pictures, activity, or other digital fingerprints. When successful, hackers can find information the families and law enforcement have never had before – helping their quest to track down the person, or even finding them directly.
This is the first video in Freethink’s new series Digital Detectives. In it, we meet Nathalie St-Louis, a French Canadian woman whose father disappeared 30 years ago. She heard about Trace Labs and is hoping they can provide her information or hope on his whereabouts. We then follow Rob Sell as he sets up shop at a hacking conference and recruits a team of hackers to trace Nathalie’s father and other cold cases. What do you think? Are these amateur sleuths helping a great cause or playing a silly true crime game? Let us know what you think in the comments!
The missing persons issue is getting worse and requires modern and scalable solutions at various levels to help mitigate risk to society. Trace Labs is an online, open source intelligence platform that scales on demand through crowdsourcing while providing full transparency of verified public information. This allows all missing persons to receive the attention that is needed early in the search process and for family and concerned friends to see progress. It also allows the police authorities to have access to a centralized and current database of verified information on lost persons. – Trace Labs
Find more information on Trace Labs at http://www.tracelabs.org/.
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