UCF Global Perspectives


Artificial Intelligence Helps Locate Victims of Sex Trafficking

Erin Reedy, Francis Bok Human Trafficking Awareness Fellow

February 14, 2019

Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence program that uses crowdsourced photos of hotel rooms to aid in locating sex trafficking victims (Reuters). Traffickers often bring their victims to hotels, take a picture of them in the room, and post it on the dark web as an advertisement (Reuters). The new development, called Hotels-50K, uses the traffickers’ advertisements against them. By analyzing over a million pictures of hotel rooms with an artificial intelligence engine, the program can learn patterns and eventually identify a particular hotel from a photo (Reuters). The app TraffickCam supports Hotels-50K, which allows individuals to take photos of hotel rooms and upload them to the database (The Register).

Currently, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and law enforcement are using the technology to aid in their rescue of victims (Reuters). However, their efforts have become more complex due to the government shutdown of Backpage, one of the most popular sites for sex trafficking advertisements (Reuters 2). Backpage had centralized these photos thus making it easier for law enforcement and researchers to obtain. The sites closure has caused the advertisements to spread to various other websites, resulting in them becoming harder to find (Tech Crunch).






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