26 September 2023

Hackathon focuses on missing persons

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

Following the success of the inaugural Hackathon event last year, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) partnered with AustCyber, a not-for-profit Federal Government funded organisation, and Trace Labs, a Canadian based non-profit organisation, to hold the second Hackathon event in Canberra.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton said the hackers applied their unique skills to interrogate open source resources on the internet to generate new leads for current long-term missing persons’ cases.

“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,” Mr Dutton said.

“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,” he said.

Mr Dutton said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Hackathon was held virtually across Australia with a small in-person event in Canberra, complemented by hundreds more participants who joined via livestream.

“Every year, more than 38,000 Australians are reported missing to police,” the Minister said.

“Most are found within a few days, but there are currently around 2,600 people who have never been located.”

He said 12 missing persons were selected from existing State and Territory police cases for participants to collect open source intelligence on and to hopefully generate new information.

Mr Dutton said all leads generated on the missing person cases were handed to State and Territory police forces, through the AFP’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC).

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