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Hackers join search for missing people

11 October 2019

More than 300 hackers and investigators from across the country will today use their skills to try and find Australians who have gone missing.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the National Missing Persons Hackathon was the first of its kind in Australia and is another example of how technology can help people.

“You can only imagine the great heartache when a loved one goes missing. Family and friends are often haunted by the experience for life. They never stop looking and trying to find answers,” Minister Andrews said.

“This event is a great opportunity to use online investigative techniques and hacking skills in creative and socially useful ways.

“Cyber security is fundamental to our national governance and to business certainty, but it’s also an important tool for our prosperity and way of life.”

Participants will use open source intelligence in an attempt to shed new light on 12 missing person cases from the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre.

Each year more than 38,000 people go missing in Australia. Most are located quickly, but around 2,600 are not and are still missing after three months.

The Hackathon is taking place over six hours in all capital cities, plus the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. Prizes are being offered for the top three teams.

Similar events have been held in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and have led to missing persons’ cases being solved.

The Hackathon is being delivered by AustCyber’s Canberra Cyber Security Innovation Node in partnership with the Australian Federal Police, National Missing Persons Coordination Centre and Trace Labs as part of Australian Cyber Week 2019.

AustCyber is one of six Industry Growth Centres established by the Coalition Government to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and is part of our plan to create 1.25 million jobs over the next five years.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070