RescueLab Hackathon 2023

13 Oct
Friday, 10/13/2023 9:00am to 5:00pm
Computer Science Room 150/151
Special Event
Speaker: RescueLab Child Safety Hackathon 2023

Rescue Lab Child Safety Hackathon
Oct 13, 2023

The UMass Rescue Lab is hosting a Hackathon on Friday October 13 focused on building software to help make mobile apps safe by design, and we'd like you to be involved. 

Registration link below. 

Motivation: Apps sold by Apple and Google receive an age rating, such as "E for Everyone", "T for Teen" or "M for Mature". The age ratings are a primary method by which parents determine if an app is safe for their children. Unfortunately, the age ratings are based on the intent of the app developer rather than the content on the app. For example, Whisper is rated age 12+ on Google store, but it is filled with content that is mature. 

Goal: The goal of the hackathon is to make progress in building a system that determines the appropriate rating of an app based on the actual content shown to users. We'll attack the problem along 5 fronts. At the hackathon, you'll join a team working on just one of the problems.

Hackathon Teams. The 5 fronts have a variety of skill levels. Each team is interconnected in the abstract, but we'll set things up in practice so that you can walk in and get hacking. All work will be done in Python.


Team 1. Scraping content from a web app. The goal here is to build a tool that grabs content from an app and saves it to a database (or a local file). Many apps are also available through the web, which makes scraping easier. In fact, for the most popular apps, there are packages that allow scraping (e.g., Instagram). There are a variety of software packages that can help in general. 


Moderate Difficulty. This task will require programming experience. You'll work with a team and focus on a specific web-available app. Your goal will be to scrape a lot of sample data via code and store it in a format that is compatible with the labeling Team 3's work.

Team 2. Scraping content from a mobile app. It's harder to scrape when there is not a website for a mobile app. (For example, you can use Instagram via an app or the web.) In these cases, it's possible to scrape by intercepting traffic as it is received by the app using MITM Proxy. A tool like Appium can automatically scroll the screen to ensure content keeps arriving to scrape.


More than Moderate Difficulty. This task will require more programming experience, some knowledge of networking, and the willingness to monkey with things. As mentioned on the left, you'd probably use MITM Proxy and Appium. As above, your goal is to pick an app and scrape some content by the end of the day suitable for Team 3 to use. 

Team 3. Labeling content. We need humans to examine a variety of content and label it according to the age ratings that Google and Apple have provided. You can let us know ahead of time if you want to label content that is Safe for Work, or if you are ok with labeling content that one would call Not Safe for Work. 


Not Difficult.  This task will not involve programming. We'll spend some time reading the age rating guides, agree on a labeling system, and then start labeling. We'll use Label Studio to do the work. A big part of the job will be keeping everything organized. Your goal is to give data to Team 4 and 5 to use. We'll have some content ready to label when you walk in, you don't have to wait for Teams 1 or 2 to get started. 

Team 4. Training a Text or Image Classifier. With labeled examples in hand, we need folks to train a classifier to identify the age level of content. We plan to handle text and images distinctly. 


Expert Difficulty. To take on this task, you'll need experience with training a classifier. We'll give you labeled data to start the day so that you don't need to wait for Team 3. One group will work on classifying text, another on images. If you are brave, you could work on a multimodal classifier. 

Team 5. Wrangling Apps for Scraping. Some apps put up hurdles to scraping. For example, they might be "pinned" to a specific public key and they need a nudge in the right direction. 


Expert difficulty. To take on this task, you'll need experience unpinning apps and with reverse engineering. If you are successful, you'll be able to hand your work off to Team 2. 


We are excited about the hackathon for a number of reasons. 

  • We'll have participation from professionals from MITRE, who will be driving out from eastern Mass to join us as participants!

  •  The hackathon is designed to have an outcome that will have an impact. We plan to build on the outcomes of the hackathon and release our work to the public. 

  • We'll be serving lunch and snacks! Free pizza! 



Where: Room 150/151 of the Computer Science Building 

When: Oct 13, 2023 at 9am-5pm

How: Register Here.