How technology can combat human trafficking in Asia Pacific

Human trafficking is one of the largest, best-organized and most profitable types of crime, ranking behind only the illegal weapons and drug trades.

According to UN estimates, 20.9 million men, women and children are victims of trafficking and exploitation worldwide, with the Asia Pacific accounting for 11.7 million, or a staggering 56 percent of the global number.

Microsoft believes that the technologies of today’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” world can be used to help disrupt the global problem of human trafficking. Technology can not only make law enforcement more efficient, it can be used to educate those at risk and their families, and can disrupt criminal operations by increasing the risk and reducing the rewards of their activities.

There is an incredible amount of work remaining to understand how technology is being used by traffickers, and how it can be used to defeat them. Microsoft and its partners are also committed to supporting humanitarian organizations as they look to incorporating technology to further their efforts in this battle.

Speaking as part of a panel with the International Organization for Migration’s X Campaign (IOM X), USAID and the U.S. Embassy in Singapore at IOM X Connect Singapore, a pilot outreach programme aimed at raising awareness about the issue of human trafficking, Stefan Sjöström, Vice President Asia, Public Sector, Microsoft shared: “NGOs know very well what the issues are but they don’t necessarily know software development. Meanwhile, software developers are in abundance but they aren’t well-versed in the problems.”

“There are a lot of good-hearted people out there. If we provide them with a vehicle to participate, many are willing to share their time and resources,” he added.

Microsoft efforts and technologies now being applied to combat trafficking include:

  • Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). This organization of attorneys, investigators, forensic analysts, and business professionals in 30 countries around the world assist law enforcement in combatting all types of cybercrime to help create a safer digital world.
  • PhotoDNA. This product creates a unique fingerprint-like signature for images that can be used to better identify child pornography online and has been donated to Interpol for its International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.
  • Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS). A software-based solution, developed in collaboration with Canadian law enforcement, which manages and links child protection cases across jurisdictional boundaries worldwide.
  • Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE). This kit helps computer forensic investigators extract digital evidence from any computer using a Windows operating system.
  • Guardian App. This app leverages mobile technology to provide real time tracking, two-way communication and enhanced situational awareness for those at risk, their families and law enforcement.

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