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Tracking Pedophiles By Their Typing Habits 292

An anonymous reader writes "Pedophiles using the internet to target youngsters could be tracked down — by the way they use a keyboard. Researchers are investigating ways to use technology which can determine a typist's age, sex and culture within ten keystrokes by monitoring their speed and rhythm." Since Phrenology hasn't exactly panned out, they gotta try something new.
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Tracking Pedophiles By Their Typing Habits

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  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @09:27AM (#31609632)
    From a purely technological point of view, I could see this working IF you had a profile pre-built. That is to say, if you had established a baseline of a particular persons typing habits (tempo, speed, accuracy, common mistakes, pause patterns, etc.) then I think it would be relatively easy to identify/track them in the future. I realize that this isn't really what the OP is talking about, but I think this is the closest to reality as one could get. I've seen authentication tools that combine the password you've entered with the 'way' in which you enter it, doing essentially just that. Anyway, determining a persons proclivities based solely on the way they type is, well, stupid.
  • by Rah'Dick ( 976472 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @09:40AM (#31609790)

    They say they can identify a single person by a typing profile that they've previously generated, but you certainly cannot deduct from a typing profile that any given person is a pedophile! I agree with the author's comment.

    [rant]On a side note, TFA has pictures of a murderer and a 17 y/o girl next to each other. I refuse to call someone a "pedophile" who is attracted to 17-year-old girls, because becoming an adult is not a matter of some age number increasing by one digit. 17-year-olds are certainly not KIDS! I'm sick of the misuse of the word "pedophile". What they actually mean is "ephebophile", but since that one is - to some degree - accepted by society, they cannot polarize people enough to enact more stupid laws. [/rant]

  • by Shrike82 ( 1471633 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:10AM (#31610114)
    You've clearly failed to understand the important role the Daily Mail plays in British society. Every page is full of stories about how immigrants are taking all the jobs, how your tax money pays for illegal immigrants to buy pornography, how your children are at risk every time they go online to check their e-mail, how beef/bread/wine/cheese/saturated fat/unsaturated fat will WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT kill you/reduce your risk of heart disease/prevent you from getting cancer.

    The middle classes are happily distracted by the constant threat towards their very way of life, and which foods are killing them this week, that they forget about things like climate change, human rights violations around the world and the state of the global economy, which makes the government very happy indeed.
  • by English French Man ( 1220122 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:13AM (#31610156)

    Problem is, there is nothing illegal in pretending to be a 12 year old girl when actually a 40 year old man. Or copy-pasting into textboxes to avoid typing pattern detection.

    So we are talking about a method for detecting something that isn't illegal by itself (it becomes illegal when the 40 year old guy invites her new friend in his house to mistreat her) and flagging it as suspicious. Automatic crime detection leads to an unfair justice system IMHO. In addition, flagging someone for a crime that, statistically, they have more chance of committing than others I find wrong too.

    Last, but not least, how many false positives? How many 12 year old girls type like 40 year old guys? What would be the consequences?

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:46AM (#31610556)

    This kind of flamebaitery got labeled "insightful"?

    Joe "ban video games" Lieberman is a democrat. Obama's White House has actually been worse for civil liberties and worse for consumers in the arena of things like Net Neutrality and reform of IP law than the republicans were. They've rejected more FOIA requests on "national security" grounds than Bush and his cronies ever had the temerity to, probably because Bush and his cronies knew the media were watching like hawks while the media is still simping and fawning over Obama.

    Neither party is good for technology, neither party realizes the limitations of technology, and neither party gives a flaming crap about "justice."

  • Re:oh no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31610696)

    It doesn't have anything to do with who you want to fuck, but it sure seems to be getting in the way of you reading and understanding the article. :)

    This is not to determine if someone types like a pedophile, it's to determine where they might be and other demographic information about people who are targeting children online, based on their typing.

    Sounds like absolute bullshit to me - I've seen numerous other things that attempt to determine something about an individual based on input like typing, sentence construction and other info and they're usually off enough that they'd be worthless as any kind of forensic tool. Some of these combed through thousands of posts comprising millions of words for an individual and still only gave a 60% read on what gender the person was and a 70% read on their likely level of education based on word choice. The problem is that when you are taking part in a global community like the Internet, people pick up all kinds of habits.

    For example, I know quite a few USians who use "Cheers!" "mate" and "no worries" because they happen to frequent forums that have people from England, Australia and other countries where such turns of phrase are much more common than in the US. I also know many people of middle-age or later who use phrases that make them sound like teenagers. And there are a staggering number of highly educated people I speak with daily who write email as if they were 12-year-old girls named Becky and they RILLY RILLY RILLY wanna go see the Jonas Bros.

    I could see being able to get more info with LOTS of information - surely it would be possible to determine if someone was actually British or just a bit affected online if you could look at their spelling and other word use (or, at least, to see if they seem to be actual vs. faux British) - but this claim of in as few as 10 keystrokes and basing it on silly things like the force of the keystrokes etc. is just completely absurd.

    Though it does lead to some fun scenarios...

    "Hey, Joe - we got some sicko here trying to pick up 10-year-olds in Hello Kitty Online! Based on the typometric reading... It's either a left-handed, myopic 32 year-old male living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa or a mildly retarded 58 year-old intersex retired WalMart greeter who moved to Tuvalu sometime last spring."

    "Tuvalu? Awesome - I've always wanted to go to Oceania! I'll submit the travel vouchers while you call the Iowa office to let them know who's door to kick in!"

  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#31610816) Journal

    Couldn't this be used the other way round? Couldn't potential pedophiles monitor the typing speed of the "12-year old girl" with whom they're chatting to determine whether it's really a 40-year old FBI agent?

  • Re:oh no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tanktalus ( 794810 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:38AM (#31611510) Journal

    Well, according to Gender Guesser [], you come across as:
    Genre: Informal
    Female = 530
    Male = 892
    Difference = 362; 62.72%
    Verdict: MALE
    It's been going on for ages.

  • by Issarlk ( 1429361 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @01:53PM (#31614230)
    I agree. I'd also add that probably most do not "want" but just fantasize about it. "Want" convey the idea you are planning to do so imo.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.