The Dual Role of Technology in Combating and Facilitating Human Trafficking
Did you know sex trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world? Many of us are blind to the fact that sex trafficking goes on in our society every day, and many of us have little knowledge of what sex trafficking and human trafficking are. Sex trafficking is the illegal business of recruiting, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person and especially a minor, for sex. Many of us mistake sex trafficking as something that only happens from one country to another, but it happens within the same country that we live in.
The United States is one of the worst countries where human trafficking happens, and it is known that about 79% of human trafficking in the United States is primarily for sexual exploitation. Technology plays a huge role in how sex trafficking is happening so fast across the world, but it can also help with the act of combatting sex trafficking. Technology will continue to play a positive and negative role in sex trafficking, and digital devices will continue to be used to sexually exploit children and protect them from sex trafficking as well.
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Technology as a Weapon Against Traffickers
Today, the internet has become a big factor in sex trafficking which can be negative in combatting sex trafficking. Johns and pimps ideally enjoy the fact that internet speeds are at a record high rate and that accessing the internet has become an easier task to do. Pimps have access to computers that help them exploit women and children at a faster rate. Johns can easily set up false profiles on Facebook and other websites to talk to young girls and females.
According to Maras, “the internet, computers, and related technologies have facilitated prostitution and human sex trafficking through the trading, buying, selling, and renting and even advertising of human beings online for the engagement in sexual activities” (17). Predators have all kinds of sources, VPN servers, sites, and devices to use in hunting for women and children. The predators use the special features of their equipment so that they can be hidden well and so that they can seem innocent. Sex trafficking will continue to be at a disadvantage if predators have access to technology that can camouflage them.
Technology does not always impact sex trafficking in a negative way, but it can also impact it in a positive way. Sex trafficking has a relatively long history that was followed before the Internet existed, so sex trafficking was a problem before the internet became a factor. Since the internet is an important resource today, it can be used as a way to stop sex trafficking. Police can set up fake advertisements online to lure in clients searching for sex from women and minors. This helps the police to find and arrest people who are sexually exploiting women, which in turn reduces the demand for sex trafficking. Technology can be used against pimps and johns rather than allowing them to use technology against victims.
The Vulnerability of Minors
The act of stopping minors from being sex trafficked is at a disadvantage because digital tools give children easy access to sex trafficking websites. Digital tools such as phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices are used every day by children across the world. According to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “most teens- 85% of those aged 14 to 17- have cell phones. So do 69% of 11-14-year-olds and 31% of kids aged 8-10” (Davis 1). Assuming these numbers have increased from 8 years ago, more children are being exposed to the dangers of sex trafficking every day when they are on the internet.
Gamble quotes, “It is estimated that 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given time and that 50% of sex crimes committed against a minor involve a predator obtaining information and/or pictures from social media sites” (7). Children who have little experience and knowledge of the dangers of the internet are at great risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Predators tend to seek friendship online with children by asking them questions and using it as a weakness against the child. Pimps are usually persuasive and can get a child to send pictures in an inappropriate manner.
The location services that have been enabled on social media sites, apps, and devices have made it easier to kidnap a child by their location. The pimps usually use digital devices to post pictures of the children on websites and gain money for their online graphics. In all, digital devices can be negative in the exploitation of children because of their advanced ability and social pages.
Internet danger comes in many forms, and human trafficking is one of the most serious forms of internet danger. Children are being abducted every day, and they are being forced into what is one of the biggest modern-day slavery issues. Sex trafficking is a very serious matter, and it will continue to be. The world must stand up against sex trafficking with the use of technology and other techniques to end it. Many people believe sex trafficking is just a form of prostitution and that people are willingly giving themselves away for money. Many of these people who are “willingly” giving themselves away were forced into sex trafficking and have not been able to escape from it.
Many prostitutes are not able to escape from their pimps, so a lot of times, they cope with it just so that they can get by in life because they have nowhere to go if they are to escape. Children are at great risk every day because they are in danger of online predators who seek to harm them. We must continue to advance technology in a safe and positive manner so that we can guarantee the safety of children on websites and devices so that minors do not fall into traps. We must also execute and combat sex trafficking by eliminating the negative impact technology has on it.
- “The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today” by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter
- “Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective” by Louise Shelley
- “Cybercrime and Digital Forensics: An Introduction” by Thomas J. Holt and Adam M. Bossler
- “Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy” by Thomas P. Keenan