January 14, 2013
How Mobile Phones And The Internet Fight (And Help) Human Trafficking
Prepaid mobile phones and websites are changing the nature of illegal sex trafficking in the United States. FastCo.EXIST reports.
... Underage sex traffickers use throwaway phones slightly differently than drug dealers, another criminal subculture known for using them. The USC report noted that inexpensive smartphones are frequently used in order to utilize geotracking apps that keep tabs on the whereabouts of sex workers. Rather than relying on the voice and SMS text message portions of things, data plays an integral role in the use of mobile phones in child trafficking.
However, this cuts both ways. A law enforcement interviewee quoted in the study referred to phones confiscated from both traffickers and traffickees as “evidentiary gold mines” that play an important part in building cases against traffickers, thanks to their archives of text messages, voice mails, geotagged metadata, and web browsing history. This data can also help law enforcement find emerging websites, forums, and apps used in the underage sex trade.
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