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It began as an adjunct to a local radio show that TWIT founder Leo Laporte did in the mid-1990s.
Today, there are often as many as 1,000 geeks inside who sometimes refer to themselves as the TWIT Army.
"There's so much activity it's virtually impossible to police," he says. Rashid's strategy is to create automated monitoring tools that operators of chat rooms, social networks, and file-sharing networks would install on their sites.
In a move that pits technology against criminals (and, some fear, privacy), a group of researchers at Lancaster University in England and law-enforcement officials at the United Kingdom's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP) is developing software that tracks the Web's evolving child pornography lexicon as well as predators' chat strategies to help law-enforcement agencies catch the most secretive of these criminals before they strike.
"There's a list of about 50 key words that are very indicative of child pornography," says Doug Skinner, a forensics expert who works at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va.,* and sometimes coordinates with CEOP as part of the Global Virtual Task Force.
"They're the wise-ass kids at the back of the class who know everything that's going on," said Laporte, who hosts several of TWIT's 20-plus podcasts and is also heard nationally on the Premier Radio Network.
"The chat room has turned out to be a very useful tool because if I don't know the answer [to a tech question], they either know the answer off the top of their heads or they research it and come back with links." Laporte monitors the chat room on a 42-inch TV monitor, one of 10 screens he looks at while doing podcasts or the radio show.