Paedophiles in chatrooms may be trapped by their typing

Paedophiles using the internet could soon be tracked down simply by the way they type…

Paedophiles using the internet to target and groom youngsters could be tracked down by the way they use a keyboard.

Researchers are investigating ways to use technology that can determine a typist‘s age, sex and culture within 10 keystrokes by monitoring their speed and rhythm, and will offer ‘95 per cent accuracy‘, according to computer scientists.

Developers also hope to be able to reveal whether adults are pretending to be children in chatrooms or using software such as Windows Live or MSN Messenger.

The new technique could be a ‘fantastic tool to aid intelligence-gathering for crime-fighting agencies’, said former police chief inspector Phil Butler, who helped carry out the research at Newcastle University.

Professor Roy Maxion, associate professor at Newcastle University, has been carrying out the research in the US, with tests including monitoring and timing students as they typed an agreed password 400 times in succession.

The murder of Darlington teenager Ashleigh Hall last year by predator Peter Chapman who she met on Facebook has raised fresh calls for extra security to protect young people on the internet.

Mr Butler, who heads Newcastle University’s CyberCrime and Computer Security department, said the technology could also be used to prevent convicted sex offenders committing further crimes.

‘As part of a sexual offences prevention order, courts currently have the power to ban a sex offender from using a computer,’ he said. ‘With this technology the courts could force the offender to provide an example of their typing as a way of ensuring they don’t use a computer.’

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