Human trafficking, which violates an individual’s human rights and the law, impacts many lives. The US had 11,500 human trafficking arrests in 2019 alone and the number continues to grow. The same source reports that the approximate number of human trafficking cases in total is around 199,000 cases in any given year, and a similar number is predicted for 2022. Its victims are often vulnerable groups who are financially insecure or come from an unstable social background.
Human trafficking and the numbers that underline its severity require urgent response to identified organizations and reported suspicious activities. Fortunately, the emergence of counter-human trafficking technologies and potentially-related tools can aid efforts to not just catch organizations but prevent human trafficking as well.
So with all that in mind, here are some examples of modern technology that is helping prevent human
Technology can help authorities store data and use it to predict human trafficking activities. An example of this is predictive analytics, which utilizes past data to identify possible situations in the future. In fact, Maryville University once wrote an article on how future crimes can be fought using the power of predictive analytics. By analyzing past cases and surveillance footage, for example, authorities can anticipate and even prevent human trafficking incidents.
For instance, the statistician advocacy group Peace-Work uses National Human Trafficking Resource Center data to learn more about the factors that could identify high-risk communities. They were able to discover a correlation between human trafficking and the following factors: significant income gap, property loss due to foreclosure, and the per capita income in the region. These factors help pinpoint where human trafficking incidences are highly likely to take place.
Advancements in information systems can also prevent human trafficking by tracing records. This is possible with blockchain technology—a record-keeping system that is public, uneditable, and anonymous to a degree. Initially, this technology seemed to favor human traffickers who used blockchain-based cryptocurrency as it was believed to offer anonymity through peer-to-peer interactions that bypassed middlemen who could report illegal activity.
However, this anonymity has been debunked. Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University’s paper on Bitcoin transactions found that through address-linking, patterns of codes can serve as leads to addresses involved in criminal cryptocurrency transactions. This approach has already helped shutdown a large child pornography site using Bitcoin. Former IRS-CI Cyber Crimes agent Chris Janczewski notes how blockchain’s immutability can be leveraged to trace and expose child pornography sites. He and his team were able to use Bitcoin transactions to trace users of a child pornography site to 340 locations
including addresses in the US.
The caveat is that it takes special training to learn how to utilize cryptocurrencies and blockchain data to get leads on human trafficking activity. However, the fact that blockchain data cannot be altered can prove to be extremely helpful in determining signs of human trafficking activity as well as where they could be happening.
Another application involved utilizing satellite data to identify which industrial fishing boats are high-risk sites engaging in forced labor. This is especially helpful since Research published by the National Academy of Sciences informs the public about how forced labor occurs in at least 16,000 ships in the fisheries sector. Additionally, it is estimated that around 100,000 workers on the vessels are doing forced labor.
When it comes to how this can be applied as a preventive anti-human trafficking measure, the same researchers were able to use satellite imagery to identify patterns in the movement of forced labor ships. An indicator of a forced labor ship, according to the study, is that it would maintain distance from the port, and would often be found fishing on the high seas. The research also reported that these ships would set out less often than other ships. But when they do, they would spend more hours fishing than
There’s a lot of work to be done in order to boost counter-human trafficking efforts with technological advancements. But with what’s already being done out there to prevent human trafficking and trace organizations, it is imperative that social services and organizations look into technology to expedite investigations and rescues.
If you want to learn more about human trafficking and what you can do, stay posted on our website where we announce events held with organizations like United Against Human Trafficking.
Article written by Alicia Dorian
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