Human trafficking robs 25 million people a year of their freedom. Eradicating human trafficking requires data-driven strategies that disrupt and prevent the crime at an equal scale. Polaris operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, knitting together service providers, law enforcement, and private businesses to provide services and support for some of these individual survivors. That work has allowed Polaris to build one of the largest data sets on human trafficking in the United States, and in doing so, opened a window into how the 25 business models of human trafficking in the United States really work. Based on that information, and with the guidance of survivors, we are digging deeper into those business models. New data and insights open doors to possibilities - ways in which law enforcement, governments, service providers, and private businesses can undermine traffickers’ businesses, making them more risky and less profitable. Together with our partners across the field, we are putting those insights into action.
Polaris also recently released new findings focused on intersections between the public and private sectors and how industries across them can disrupt human trafficking. You can read the blog post, access the full report, or get an at-a-glance view from their systemic change matrix. For this hackathon, they specifically suggested that the role of social media in human trafficking might be a great place to begin building.
Thorn is a uniquely equipped non-profit organization that joins forces with the sharpest minds from tech, non-profit, government and law enforcement. We work to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers. We’re also uncovering new kinds of abuse, and fighting those too.
Technical Tools: Thorn built and maintains Spotlight, a web-based tool that enables law enforcement to collaborate across jurisdictions. One of its main goals is to help law enforcement sift through massive amounts of data to better understand where they should focus their time. They’ve also published a Survivor Insights report based on their research and findings about the role of technology in trafficking.
Child sexual abuse is a global, invisible emergency, aggravated by technology, democratized by the internet. Law enforcement specialists estimate that there are 60,000-80,000 unknown child victims globally, and last year over 20 million images and videos of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) were reported in the US alone, many of which are the same images and videos being reported over and over.
Today, less than 1,500 of the more than 100,000 US technology companies are registered to report CSAM to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Without technology that detects CSAM, bad actors are left to freely share and consume abuse imagery, allowing CSAM to spread unchecked on these services. In addition, the failure to detect and report bad actors is a lost opportunity to find potential new victims hidden in their accounts.
A big part of the problem is inconsistent platform protection. Most companies aren’t looking for CSAM at all and only a very few are actively looking. 98% (9,940,314) of the reports came from just 10 companies. Top reporting companies invest millions in custom tooling and often have dedicated safety teams, but smaller companies with limited resources struggle to invest in safety and leave their platforms vulnerable to abuse.
Thorn focuses on removing Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) from the internet and has made it one of their core objectives. Thorn knows this is no small feat, but beyond rescuing a child, it is the next top priority in Thorn’s battle to empower every child to simply be a kid.