Human trafficking has become a massive problem, indeed, the world’s fastest growing crime. It ranks third, behind only the illicit trade in drugs and weapons. It’s estimated that 21 million people around the world have been victims of human trafficking. Just in the United States, there are over a million modern-day slaves. The Department of State estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are brought into the country every year by human traffickers. Overall, about 80% of them are female and half are children.
What’s mostly responsible for the growing problem is demand for ultra-cheap labor and for people who can be sexually exploited. The victims are held against their will, subject to abuse, coercion, and threats of violence. Unfortunately, the crime often flies under the radar. People find it hard to imagine that human trafficking could be going on all over the country, and not just in well-known vice districts but in perfectly respectable neighborhoods, too.
Human traffickers tend to be a moving target and this makes tracking them down a big challenge for law enforcement. Rather than stay in one place for very long, they change locations frequently. They often make use of hotel rooms: they make for convenient short-term hideouts and it’s often possible to pay with cash. One thing human traffickers often do is post photos of their victims on-line as a kind of advertisement for their services. It may be possible to use this against them.
This is where a new app called TraffickCam comes in. When users of the app stay in a hotel, they submit photos of the room. TraffickCam then adds them to a database. When law enforcement sees a trafficker’s photo taken in a hotel room, they can use gee-whiz technology to compare it to photos in the database. Any little thing could be a clue: wallpaper, carpeting, furniture, the view out the window, and much more.
What are your thoughts about this new approach to fighting an old crime? Let us know in the Facebook comments and be sure to like and share; it’s one way to raise awareness.