IT Experts Gather to Discuss How Technology Can Be Used to Fight Trafficking

BENGALURU, 20 MARCH 2018:  Experts from cyber crime, law, technology and non-government organisations (NGOs) gathered for a day-long symposium at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-B) in Bengaluru to discuss the technological challenges facing the law enforcement agencies and NGOs in curbing trafficking. They also discussed ways to combat the problem and look for possible solutions.

“Websites, social media and chat rooms all are used by traffickers to groom their victims and sell them,” said Adrian Philips, spokesperson and legal head at Justice and Care, an anti-human trafficking organisation.

“Internet penetration into rural India also has its repercussions. Our case work of over 10 years shows that increasingly, these traffickers who are keeping pace with technology are exploiting it to trap young girls and expand their illegal businesses,” he said.

As part of a panel discussion to discuss solutions to tackle trafficking, visiting faculty at IIIT-B, Mohan Ram Chandrasekar, Chief Mission Integrator and Innovator - Forensic Intelligence Surveillance & Security Technologies/Centre for Cyber Security Education and Research said that, “A technology recommendation would be to set up a global repository of biometric voice identification of known traffickers to bring down crime in a concerted manner.”

Technology can and is being used to accelerate the reach and diversify modes of trafficking with increased challenges for prevention, investigation or prosecution. Therefore, the need is to understand its usage by criminal networks and to build capacity of society and institutions to also deploy technology as a solution to effectively combat trafficking. The immense problem of data darkness - where statistics do not reflect the actual number of cases is still a huge hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Pronab Mohanty, Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Regional Office South, Government of Karnataka who joined the panel discussion in an effective use of video conferencing said that, “Technology is used by the criminal circuit as a recruitment format to lure them in. This suggests that an amendment needs to be made to the IT Act to include the element of trafficking. The way forward would be dissemination of knowledge in this regard.”

In 2016, a total of 8,137 cases of human trafficking were reported from across the country, a jump of 18 percent over the 6,877 cases reported in 2015 as per data released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The motive behind over 7,670 cases was sexual exploitation and prostitution, while 162 cases were for child pornography.

The ILO in its recent study estimates that a staggering 40.3 million people worldwide are enslaved through human trafficking, making an estimated $150bn in profit annually.