National Missing Persons Hackathon returns for

More than 500 ethical hackers from around the country will come together today in an effort to find new leads in long-term missing persons’ cases in Australia.

These ethical hackers will apply their unique skills to interrogate open source resources on the internet with the goal of generating new leads for current long-term missing persons’ cases.

Following the success of the inaugural Hackathon event in 2019, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will again partner with AustCyber, a not-for-profit Federal Government funded organisation, and Trace Labs, a Canadian based non-profit organisation who provide crowdsourced open intelligence (OSINT), to hold the second Hackathon event in Canberra.

The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that this is an opportunity to exploit the internet for good, and to use innovative tools to continue the search for some of those we have lost.

“The use of open source intelligence gathering, or ethical hacking, by our participants for this initiative embraces the spirit of innovation, of partnership and of community in an effort to help solve these long-standing cases,” Mr Dutton said.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event is being held virtually across Australia with a small in-person event in Canberra, complemented by hundreds more participants joining via livestream.

Mr Dutton said the pandemic has presented us with new challenges and caused us to rethink the way we live our lives. We are all spending more of our time, working and socialising online and it is exciting to apply it to important events such as this one.

Every year, more than 38,000 Australians are reported missing to police. Most are found within a few days, but there are currently around 2,600 people who have never been located.

Twelve missing persons have been selected from existing State and Territory police cases for participants to collect open source intelligence on and to hopefully generate new information. All leads generated on the missing person cases will be handed to State and Territory police forces, through the AFP’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) after the completion of the event.

The event compliments other efforts to solve Australia’s long term missing person cases including the $3.54 million allocated to the AFP earlier this year to establish the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons. This program, funded from the proceeds of crime, aims to use contemporary forensic techniques to establish the identity of the many unidentified human remains around the country and provide new information to historic investigations.

“I understand the broad range of challenges that law enforcement faces, but the quest to find answers for those who are missing in our country is surely one of the greatest,” Mr Dutton said.

Anyone with information relating to a missing person is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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