Technology In the Media: “The Hackers Searching for Missing Children”

“The Hackers Searching for Missing Children” is a VICE video, part of a series called Super Users. My previous blog post was about the first cyber detective, covered in a different video of the same series. This video follows Robert Sell, and his project called Trace Labs. Trace Labs is a project that utilizes open source intelligence to find leads in missing persons cases. The video title is a misnomer because the project searches for all missing persons that are requested to Robert Sell. The open source intel consists of looking for relevant information of the missing person on the open web. People can volunteer to work in a search party, and collect information. A points tier system is attached to the different pieces of information that can be found. Depending on the importance of the info, points can be higher or lower. For instance, Robert says a unique identifier such as a tattoo awards many points. Robert has been able to build a reputation with law enforcement and fill the gap of open source intelligence through this project. Also, through this project Robert is able to utilize hackers to fill the gap. As Robert says, “Hackers are people that differently, think outside the box. That are not limited by staying within the lines.”

As I talked about briefly, this video has some clear parallels to the video about the first cyber detective. Both the detective and the project utilize open source intelligence to find missing persons. Both the detective and the project appeal to an aspect of community towards a goal. As the cyber detective predates Trace Labs, it wouldn’t be unfair to say Trace Labs is a progression or evolution on the cyber detective’s original work. It is great to see people work towards the greater good through an event such as the Trace Labs search party. Thanks for reading.