Dec 06, 2016 05:13 AM EST

New Technologies Developed To Fight Human Trafficking: The 'Internet of Things' Alert Beacon, Sexual Assault Trackers, and More

By JC Santos

Surveillance is the best way to combat human trafficking -- if the technologies available are used correctly. Different organizations all over the world are introducing new technologies that would allow people to alert law enforcement into their area using everyday items and other materials, collect statistical information regarding sexual assaults and map out similar locations where suspected human trafficking happened through map cross-referencing.

According to, startups and organizations such as Beacon of Hope intend to use tampons, sanitary napkins and items in convenience stores to help them alert law enforcement regarding their location. Once activated, they can alert law enforcement to their locations -- like a tracker.

Other organizations such as create a crowdsourced map of sexual assault statistics that would serve as evidence to help raise political awareness and possible future action depending on sexual assault frequency. The TraffickCam app allows people to take photos of places they visit or rooms they use in certain houses or apartments -- such as AirBnB lodgings -- and the app will cross-reference it with surveillance photographs by authorities.

According to The Washington Post, a new breed of surveillance cameras can track vehicles and people in small cities. The cameras have limitations -- such as it could not read license plates or see faces but it can help police track certain individuals and note certain activities on the road.

Surveillance is good to help apprehend human trafficking, but if used improperly -- or placed in the wrong hands -- it can prove dangerous. In the United Kingdom, the Investigatory Powers Bill or "Snooper's Charter" allows UK authorities and police to conduct activities earlier deemed illegal as it is against the privacy of individuals in the country.

The mass surveillance laws could help stop human trafficking but with a price that would compromise one's privacy. The tech industry has been vigilant and resistant against government tech abuse -- but if given the chance authorities can use the technology to help prevent human trafficking, it may as well be allowed.

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