Fighting Human Trafficking: Open Data, Big Data, and Python
“The crime that shames us all” is a 32 billion USD industry, benefitting from 21 million people. And 33 percent are children. As technology has progressed, it has come to play a pivotal role in the human trafficking industry.
Over time, advancements in technology have restructured the ways in which human traffickers (and their businesses) operate; large scale trafficking has become simultaneously more profitable and more complex. Though, as technology can connect human traffickers to their victims, it also can serve to catch traffickers in action.
How do human traffickers use technology?
The rise of information exchange through web and mobile technology has provided more opportunities for traffickers to target victims more efficiently, through a screen, with the click of a button. Soliciting victims through online job advertising proves to be faster, more efficient, less expensive (than traditional billboard or newspaper advertising), and ultimately less risky (especially if you’re anonymous).
Victims, often recruited through anonymous online advertisements seeking models, nannies, and domestic servants abroad, relocate to accept jobs and arrive to face very different sets of job descriptions. According to USC’s 2015 report on technology and labor trafficking, migrant workers, often disconnected from technology and their social networks, are more susceptible to human trafficking.
This map only reflects cases where the location of the potential trafficking was known. Some cases may involve more than one location. Data is from 2014.Image Source
In an effort to alter the risk-reward environment for human traffickers by making human trafficking a riskier (technologically speaking) and less-lucrative industry, Microsoft has developed software and services such as PhotoDNA and the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS), to grow citizen awareness, prevent trafficking recruitment, and expose existing trafficking.