Microsoft and the Mounties combine to track down child porn

New tracking and collation system scores its first successes.

A new software system aimed at tracking down paedophiles on the internet has been developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with the help of Microsoft. The system, known as Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) was developed following a personal plea to Bill Gates by Sergeant Paul Gillespie, a Canadian Police Detective in 2003.

Following the plea by email, Gates ordered a Microsoft team to help out the Canadian law enforcement authorities to develop the customised program they needed.

CETS is said to be a specially enhanced security database system. Based on open standards and running on a variety of different computer systems the flexibility allows the computer systems from different countries and with different technologies to communicate with one another and share information.

Reflecting the international nature of much of the child pornography business, the integrated investigation and tracking system has been specially designed to allow police forces in different cities around the globe to monitor and communicate with each other in real time. Microsoft says it has invested some $4mn in the project.

'Prior to CETS, police forces were manually sorting through files and photos, making it almost impossible to share information,' said Toronto Police Service Chief Designate William Blair. 'CETS is shifting the power of the Internet out of the hands of the predators and back to the police. In fact, we've already been successful in identifying one victim with CETS during the beta testing phase.'

According to the Canadian police, one child pornographer was tracked down and arrested during the beta testing of the system in November of last year. During testing information on CETS combined with that of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security led to a Toronto child pornographer.

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