Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Sweetie (internet avatar)

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Sweetie was a computer animated child that was created by children's rights organization Terre des hommes as a sting operation. It was used to lure online sexual predators into providing personally-identifiable information, so that this information could then be reported to law enforcement agencies.

Contents

Background

In 2013, the Dutch branch of Terre des hommes, noting that efforts to combat child sex tourism in impoverished countries had resulted in pedophiles instead seeking victims online, joined forces with local animation company Lemz that at first preferred to remain anonymous to create the animated, photorealistic image of a 10-year-old Filipina girl.

How Sweetie worked

A 'puppeteer' for Sweetie would enter a chat room, claiming to be a ten-year-old Philippine girl. Sexual predators would open webcam connections with 'her', during which programmers would animate Sweetie as necessary in real time through motion capture. As the dialogue between Sweetie and the predator progressed, the predator would make a $20 wire transfer and provide his Skype address. Once this information was gathered, the chat with Sweetie would be shut down, and the information was given to the local police or Interpol.

Sweetie operated for ten weeks, during which over 1000 predators in 71 countries gave Sweetie enough information for them to be identified.

Sweetie has now been retired, and "will not be used again".

Outcome

The first arrest resulting from Sweetie-gleaned information occurred in Brisbane, Australia, in February 2014; however, Troels Ørting Jørgensen of the European Cybercrime Centre has expressed concerns that judges may consider Sweetie to have been entrapment, and thereby rule inadmissible any data ultimately sourced to Sweetie.

References

Sweetie (internet avatar) Wikipedia


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