University of Massachusetts Amherst computer scientists have developed new software that would help police catch people who possess and share illegal images and produce child pornography for the Internet.
Brian Levine and Marc Liberatore's software provides the first comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers to children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism and other threats.
The program called RoundUp alerts investigators when p2p users announce they are sharing pornographic image files.
However, it doesn't allow hacking into a person's account.
It simply provides law enforcement with an "optimised interface for observation" which allows an investigator to watch the open activities of remote peers on the network.
"It's not magic and it's not hacking," said Levine.
"This allows regular shoe-leather, routine police work, the steps of which can be tracked and verified just as in any other search for evidence."
The tools combined with investigators' knowledge of the law would be an excellent solution to nabbing offenders.
"A real investigator with his or her years of experience and finely tuned sense of what is criminal activity and what is not, is always in charge of this investigative tool," Liberatore points out.