In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted four times more sex traffickers than it did between 2006 and 2007. According to the Polaris Project, the Internet is the world’s No. 1 pimp.
The sex trafficking industry is growing faster than the illegal sales of drugs and weapons. Traffickers and customers hide behind Internet anonymity to buy and sell sex with women and children.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center found that between 2007 and 2012, online recruitment was the third most popular method for pimp-led prostitution.
Today’s advanced algorithms and computer-assisted technologies are helping authorities and researchers track fake online ads and digital footprints on social media to identify, deter and stop online sex traffickers. The primary methods include automated data collection, mapping, natural language processing and facial recognition.
But while the Internet has been helpful in tracking down criminals, it has also made it easier for others to enter the world of sex crimes. Securing techniques that enable authorities to stay a step ahead of malicious activities of traffickers operating in the online space, and to ensure data collection does not make victims more vulnerable, remain the biggest challenge.
The University of New England has created the infographic below to shed light on the Internet’s relationship with the sex trafficking industry. To learn more about how you can help stop online sex trafficking, visit the Polaris Project.