Saturday, February 05, 2005

CSI: Adobe

A fascinating tale of distributed analysis, on a matter of far more immediate import than anything even the blogosphere has managed to accomplish: TORONTO - A Walt Disney hotel in Florida is under investigation as the place where police believe pornographic images of a child were taken and circulated on the internet. Police in Toronto say they tracked down the hotel after releasing photos from a porn site, showing the locations of sex attacks against a girl who was around 12 years old. One of the altered pictures police used to identify the U.S. hotel. Based on tips from the public, police say the investigation is now focused on the Port Orleans Hotel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The original Toronto Crimestoppers photos are here, skillfully edited as if for blanks in a Photoshop contest, for the sake of the victim's anonymity. That's brilliant; take the focus off the victim, to harness the far-wider pool of members of the public who might have seen the background. What good it may do, sadly, I'm not sure. Even a single Walt Disney World resort would churn through tens of thousands of guests every year, and identifying the specific location of the abuse will likely still be difficult. Despite that, kudos to Crimestoppers for an innovative new approach; at least it's taken the case this far.

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