Human trafficking is a criminal activity that reaches every country. Today, trafficking affects over 40 million people. The regions that suffer the most from this inhumane transgression are those poorest in the world. People in impoverished countries have limited access to education and well-paying jobs, making them naive and desperate. The demand for cheap labor around the world creates profitable markets for criminals who then target and trick the vulnerable with false promises of better lives. Those victims become lost in the complex networks of human trafficking, and many times people never hear from them from again. One nonprofit is making it its mission to reduce human trafficking.
Traffickers Have Expanded Their Arsenal
In this age of rapidly expanding technology, many perpetrators use technology to enhance their modern slavery rings. Examples of this include controlling those already captured through mobile phones and webcam surveillance. Also, human traffickers recruit potential victims via online grooming scams.
Since criminals have begun to incorporate technology in how they traffic victims, it has become imperative for others to use technology to reduce human trafficking. Each incident of trafficking can be unique, but each case happens within the same three steps; acquisition, transportation and then forced labor. Technology can help disrupt each of these phases and save victims.
Using Technology to Advantage Instead
Specific technological solutions that people use today include directly connecting workers with safe employers in order to eliminate an intermediary who could exploit the worker. A great example of this application is the site, Contratados. As more resolutions like this develop, the ability for traffickers to obtain victims significantly diminishes.
Global imaging has enhanced the capability of identifying human trafficking routes. The company DigitalGlobe produces high-quality images of the earth to expose slave ships in the seas. Applying its powerful satellites in this way allows law enforcement to police seas like never before. DigitalGlobe also combats against child labor by investigating brick kilns in Inda and fisheries in Ghana.
Technology can also provide a way out for those already trapped in forced labor situations. Carrying a mobile phone has given people the ability to call for help after they went to prison wrongfully. That is if migrants have access to the funds for a mobile phone. It is uncommon for migrants to carry such devices if they are from impoverished countries where human trafficking is most rapid.
Technology has many solutions that can reduce human trafficking, but the most significant obstacle is its availability. Migrants of impoverished regions are not the only ones suffering isolation from helpful technology, their governments are too. Without the resources to combat this intricate crime, little improvements happen. Nevertheless, there is still good news for these nations.
How BSR is Doing its Part
In recent years, big tech companies have banded together in order to address this worldwide crisis and reduce human trafficking. Because of the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the big players in this initiative have formed a group called Tech Against Trafficking. These companies include Amazon, AT&T, BT, Microsoft Corporation, Nokia, Salesforce.org and Vodafone.
The mission of this collaboration is to work “with global experts to help eradicate human trafficking using technology.” BSR wants all possible parties to become involved. Everyone from survivors and academia to law enforcement and technologists. With all these forces combined, BSR hopes to advance technology in order to reduce, disrupt and even completely prevent human trafficking. Of course, it also plans to provide resources for survivors.
The first action Tech Against Trafficking took in its mission consisted of mapping out the landscape that currently exists. After the initial review, the group identified over 200 different technologies to use as tools to reduce human trafficking. However, the gaps in the effectiveness of the tech implemented were evident. Specifically, in the Southern hemisphere, there is massive room for improvement in technological applications. Tech Against Trafficking’s next step is to work with those on the ground in these regions to better serve them with tech aid.
The U.S. government is also using cutting edge technology in its fight against global trafficking through the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This agency uses a sophisticated data analytics program called Memex. The agency uses it to search the dark web for potential leads on trafficking rings, both domestic and internationally.
How to Keep Yourself and Others Safe
While big tech companies and government agencies do a large part to be at the forefront of fighting trafficking with technology, consumers can do the same. Using applications such as GoodGuide can help people be conscientious about the impacts of how their money is spent. Spreading awareness is the greatest ally to reduce human trafficking. Communicating via apps and social media is a simple call to action for this humanitarian cause that can easily disrupt human trafficking and save many lives.
– Ariana Kiessling