Traffickers, who deceive people with false offers and promises and then exploit them for profit, use online technology for every crime they commit.
A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows how victims are targeted and employed on social media and online dating sites where personal information and contact details are readily available.
Sexual harassment and other forms of exploitation are rampant, and photos and videos have also been sold to customers on various platforms, generating more money for traffickers at no additional cost.
This week, experts from 100 countries met online and in Vienna, Austria, on strategies to better use technology to prevent this and to prevent human trafficking and to investigate criminal cases.
The discussion is part of the government’s annual Trafficking in Persons Group and focuses on an in-depth background on UNODC’s Trafficking in Persons and Refugee Trafficking Unit.
Sexual harassment and other forms of exploitation are taking place in Unsplash / Priscilla du Preez.
“Traffickers are quick to adapt their business model to their needs and increase their profits, so they follow online trends,” explains Tiffany Cretin, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer.
Dark Web Exploitation
“Traffickers are now using the Internet to expose, recruit, control and exploit their victims, as well as the Internet, particularly the dark web, to hide the illicit material and identity of human traffickers from investigators.”
Money from this highly profitable crime is also being laundered online in the cryptocurrency, making it easier for smugglers to receive, hide and move large sums of money.
Today, the Internet is readily available to large victims because traditional physical and geographical restrictions no longer exist.
Traffickers create fake websites or post advertisements on legitimate employment portals and social networking sites.
Live chat scams
Some of these sites offer live chat options. This gives the trafficker quick access and access to personal information such as passport details, which increases their power over victims.
It can be used repeatedly by broadcasting victims directly on multiple websites, and there is no limit on how often and how many people watch their attack videos.
According to Critin, the global nature of human trafficking and the misuse of technology make it even more difficult for law enforcement to combat.
“When a crime is planned in one country, law enforcement will face practical challenges, such as obtaining and verifying evidence with victims and third parties, because any investigation requires border and some degree of digital cooperation,” she said.
Traffickers use technology to remotely control their victims, sometimes without having to communicate in person.
For more than a decade, online advertising has been a major tool used by traffickers to solicit commercial sex buyers.
Apps that track location in mobile phones and global location systems can be used to identify the victim’s location, while smart phone cameras used during video calls allow traffickers to see their victims and their surroundings.
Traffickers control their victims by threatening to release recent photos or videos to their family and friends if they do not comply.
Alexandra Gelber, deputy director of policy and law at the US Department of Justice’s Department of Child Abuse and Abuse, highlighted the link between human trafficking and online technology among the panelists.
“The data shows that approximately 40% of sex trafficking victims in the United States are recruited online, which is where the Internet is the most common place for victim recruitment,” she said.
“For more than a decade, online advertising has been a major tool used by traffickers to attract commercial sex buyers. More than 80% by 2020 [Justice Department’s] Sexual harassment charges include online advertising.
Ms. Gelberer added that technology is being used to engage in “imaginary child sex trafficking” when a criminal in the United States sends digital money to another country.
“The trafficker then sexually assaults the child in front of a webcam, but the criminal in the United States follows the victim live.”
The CVD-19 epidemic has increased the use of the Internet, especially on social networking sites and online video game sites, providing additional opportunities for traffickers.
Traffickers create fake websites or advertisements on the legal employment portal and social networking site at Unsplash / Avi Richards
“Precautions to control the spread of the virus means that people spend more time online, especially with children who have closed schools. At the time of the outbreak, we saw an increase in the number of child sex products created and shared online, ”said Tiffany Cretin.
Despite the increasing use of technology by human traffickers, technology can be used to identify victims and support police investigations and prosecutions.
Strict frames are required.
“However, when researchers enter the digital world, they can access personal information. It is important that there are strict frameworks for such access to and use of information to ensure that privacy and human rights are respected. ”
The UNODC background paper shows a number of existing or promising partnerships and the tools that countries are using or growing. These include digital forensics, data scanning tools, smartphone applications, and successful partnerships with technology, social media, and Internet companies.
UNODC is also partnering with DataJams, a computer giant IBM, and Colombian NGO Pasos Libres to compete online for technology-based solutions to identify and protect victims of human trafficking.
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