Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2004, $280,998)
This project proposes the design and development of a software system (PAPA)
that will assist law enforcement in support of victims of online predators. A law
enforcement agent, from his/her office will be able to "shadow" the online activities of
the victim. PAPA will support various methods by which the victim or agent can
respond to the attacker. An important aspect of the project will be system support for
the gathering and securing of an evidentiary trail for successful prosecution.
To prevent misuse of the software the following safeguards will be built into the system. First, a copy protection mechanism will be used to prevent unauthorized access to the code. For example, watermarking will be used to identify pirated copies and a digital handshake will be required for initial and ongoing use of the system. Secondly, in order to protect the privacy of the victim, after the prey module is loaded, strong password protection and legal consent will be needed for the software to activate. Also, periodic popup screens will inform the victim that the system is in use. And thirdly, a key feature to provide additional protection and to avoid misuse is that there will be automatic secure logging of the use of the system in an authenticated secure repository. The repository will thus be used for enforcing strict access and distribution control. In the case where law enforcement would require the use of the software in an undercover operation (nonconsensual use), a different version of the software would be installed on the target machine that would not alert the monitored user. To activate this installation, authorization would be required by an independent party (e.g., court ordered). The other security features such as secure logging, authentication and copy protection will prevent any unauthorized use of the software.