For last couple years, Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Microsoft have been exploring how to share information to develop global prevention strategies based on traffickers’ behaviors, and implementing technology to combat human trafficking. Data analysis, image recognition and mapping programs have been helping law enforcement, governments and anti-trafficking nonprofits identify their victims. With a victim’s snapshot and technology, analysts can track and find modified images used to sell victims for sex online. As such, with the rapid growth of social networking and technology innovation is in many ways better suited to tackle the issue of trafficking than even specialized government agencies. In case of San Francisco, SFPD and FBI have been trying to use this technology to arrest traffickers.
Technology is one combatant leading the way in terms of prevention and protection! There are two main reasons. Firstly, there are dozens or hundreds of different hotlines operated by anti-trafficking agencies in countries as far apart as China and Argentina. These hotlines offer women who have been trafficked an opportunity to contact people who can act quickly to rescue the victims. Each of these different agencies may welcome to have lots of sensitive information about victims. However, privacy laws prohibit them from sharing personal information with other agencies. There is now the possibility, through the use of new technology, of having a global network where all these different agencies can share certain parts of this information with each other—the parts which do not reveal personal details about the victims but which will be of great help in helping to track down the criminals. This can be done by the use of what is called ‘big data’ where information from millions or billions of sources can be correlated.
Secondly, time is of the essence when calls are made by a trafficked person on a hotline, because the trafficked person is likely to be moved very quickly to another location. The use of new technology for the sharing of non-personal data will enable the person who receives the call on a hotline to know almost instantly what local help can be sent to rescue the victim within a few minutes of the time the call was made. Most importantly, anti-trafficking agencies should also use the most modern technology to help combat this 32 billion-dollar per year criminal activity.