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A technological tool for fighting against trafficking in women based on AI

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A technological tool for fighting against trafficking in women based on AI

How is technology used to recruit and exploit victims? How can we avoid it? What can Artificial Intelligence offer? Camilo José Cela University collaborates with Diakonia España, a social action platform aimed at working with the most vulnerable people, to carry out a diagnosis of the trends and paradigm shift in the recruitment, exploitation and control of people today.

UCJC, through the Computing and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CAILab), is conducting research to fight against people trafficking with an algorithmic development based on Artificial Intelligence. Specifically, it analyses the modus operandi followed by traffickers to recruit women and the most used technology. With this, it establishes which are the most frequently used channels and how to combat them using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

With the aim of preventing and detecting trafficking for sexual exploitation on the Internet, CAILAB has developed a technology tool that allows combating trafficking through AI in Telegram, the only major open source messaging application, which makes it possible develop a full version completely focused on the fight against trafficking.

With the development of this technological tool, UCJC seeks to contribute effectively to the prevention, detection and combat of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, regardless of the means used by traffickers, constituting an invaluable contribution to the fight against people trafficking.

To develop this project, UCJC has carried out a bibliographical review of the literature on the subject and has conducted interviews with female survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Public and private actors who have been directly involved in the research have also collaborated, including representatives of the Spanish National Police, the Civil Guard, the State Attorney General’s Office and international organisations such as the UN, the OSCE and GRETA.

According to Lino González, director of CAILab at UCJC, “we are focused on the development of artificial intelligence capable of detecting when a person is being recruited for the purposes of sexual trafficking and notifying them to interrupt the recruitment” and adds that “we are proposing initiatives at national and European level that allows us to obtain more data, improve our application and create new useful developments to tackle human trafficking.”

This line of UCJC research is funded by the Ministry of Social Rights, Consumption and Agenda 2030.

 

What is the relationship between human trafficking and technology?

According to the National Observatory of Technology and Society, around 50% of users of applications and channels such as YouTube, Instagram or Tik Tok spend at least one hour a day viewing content. Furthermore, since lockdown, the number of internet users worldwide grew by more than 10% during the first year of the pandemic, which represents, by far, the largest annual increase in a decade.

In practice, human trafficking and new technologies can be connected and traffickers can benefit from the ease of use that the Internet offers to carry out their criminal purposes. Traffickers update and refine their recruitment or exploitation methods through new technologies, using the visibility and reach of the network to reach more victims and more people who demand their services. Traffickers not only use the Internet for recruitment, but also for the exploitation of victims and to advertise their services.

According to UCJC and Diaconía España research, the five social media platforms used by traffickers to recruit victims are: Facebook with 54%, Instagram with 23%, Onlyfans with 12%, TikTok with 8% and dating applications with 3%. The instant messaging applications identified as most common in recruitment processes have been: WhatsApp by 52.5%; Messenger by 40% and Telegram by 7.5%.

 

 

¿Qué relación tiene la trata de personas y la tecnología?

Según el Observatorio Nacional de Tecnología y Sociedad, alrededor del 50% de los usuarios de aplicaciones y canales como Youtube, Instagram o Tik Tok dedica como mínimo una hora al día a la visualización de contenido. Además, a partir del confinamiento causado por la Covid-19, el número de usuarios de internet a nivel mundial creció en más de un 10% durante el primer año de la pandemia, lo que supone, con diferencia, el mayor aumento anual en una década.

En la práctica, la trata de personas y las nuevas tecnologías pueden estar conectadas y los tratantes pueden beneficiarse de las facilidades de uso que internet ofrece para llevar a cabo sus fines delictivos. Los tratantes actualizan y refinan sus métodos de captación o explotación a través de las nuevas tecnologías, sirviéndose de la visibilidad y el alcance de la red para llegar a más víctimas y a más personas que demandan sus servicios. Los tratantes no solo utilizan la red para la captación, sino también para la explotación de víctimas y para publicitar sus servicios.

Según la investigación de la UCJC y Diaconía España, las cinco plataformas de redes sociales utilizadas por los tratantes en la captación de víctimas son: Facebook con un 54%, Instagram con un 23%, Onlyfans un 12%, TikTok un 8% y las aplicaciones de citas un 3%. Las aplicaciones de mensajería instantánea señaladas como más comunes en los procesos de captación han sido: WhatsApp en un 52,5%; Messenger en un 40% y Telegram en un 7,5%.

 

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