Human trafficking is a widespread issue that goes beyond our streets…and the internet has played a big role.
Traffickers who once recruited victims in person, can now use anything on the internet from websites and apps to online groups and chat rooms, to lure people in.
With tech giants continuing to push for user privacy against the government, it’s becoming harder and harder for agencies to screen this type of communication to help victims .
While technology is advancing, so is the sophistication of traffickers.
They know how to use the internet without leaving footprints behind by using virtual private networks and proxy servers. This is all to mask the source of their communication.
I spoke with Sergeant Michael Teachout from the Michigan State Police Department and he says technology within human trafficking is a double-edge sword.
“The technology makes things for the human trafficker and the sex trafficker both easier and more difficult. It makes things easier for them in that through technology – the apps, the internet and utilizing those things they can reach a wider audience. But it also makes it harder for them because doing all that is more public.”
The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOTSA, is a new law that gives state attorney generals, county prosecutors, and sex trafficking survivors an easier path to legal action against websites promoting advertisements for commercial sex encounters. In April, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette praised this bill and joined President Donald Trump in the oval office for the singing.
There are multiple ways to report tips online and it’s important to remember, if you see something, sat something.