Definitions of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
Human trafficking can involve forced labor and involuntary servitude without sexual exploitation; however, this article focuses on aspects of technology and human trafficking that involve sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation involves sex trafficking by force, fraud, deception, the force of threats, abduction, abuse of power, or coercion that involves a commercial sex act.
18 U.S.C. § 1591 calls for a life sentence for sexual exploitation crimes involving minors under age 14; 40 years for crimes involving minors over 14 and under 18 years old. Sexual exploitation of adults is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1589 with punishment beginning at 20 years and increasing up to life sentences if death occurs, kidnapping is involved, or aggravated sexual abuse is attempted or occurs.
Sexual exploitation typically involves forced prostitution, pornography, or stripping. It is important to note that human trafficking does not require transporting someone across the county, state, or international borders.
What is Online Human Trafficking?
Just like honest businesses, human traffickers find online recruitment and marketing efforts more efficient than other methods of finding victims and customers.
Human trafficking online begins with a lie. Messages to vulnerable people quickly help traffickers identify those who are willing to engage in further conversations with strangers on the internet. Children who post about trouble with their parents can be easy prey.
How Do Human Traffickers Use Technology?
Technology and human trafficking are paired with each innovation. Illegal operators adopt new technology quickly from chat rooms and smart phones to video surveillance and money transfer and bitcoins. Human trafficking technology can be used to identify potential victims and facilitate connections between customers. Early adopters adopt human trafficking technology before lawmakers and enforcers understand how they fit together.
Criminals use human trafficking online technology for a variety of purposes including:
- Maintaining anonymity while conducting criminal activities
- Move cryptocurrency and other anonymous financial transactions
- Recruit victims
- Access information that facilitates in identifying and abducting victims
- Sell victims for sex
- To sell recordings or live streams of victims in sex acts
- Monitor victims with video surveillance
- Coerce victims with threats of exposing recordings
- Advertise the availability of their victims for sexual exploitation
Not all technology used for human trafficking is done online. Tracking devices have been placed on automobiles that allow traffickers to follow unsuspecting victims to provide opportunities to kidnap them.
How to Protect Yourself From Human Traffickers
Being vigilant and aware, trusting your instincts, and being prepared to defend yourself are all important ways you can protect yourself. Manage your internet settings to restrict your posts from being seen by anyone other than your friends and set your location settings to private. Be mindful of how much information you give away. Data aggregation technology allows someone to find the location and other private details that feel safe to post on their own, but in combination with other posts, make you easy to find. For example, the date of your prom and homecoming game can be used to identify your school.
Trust your instincts. Lonely people and those with desperate financial needs can make easy targets. Don’t trust solutions that come too easily without independently verifying the information.
Some traffickers will learn about your troubles online and then meet you in person, seemingly by chance, dangling a solution that is a trap. Overseas jobs, farm labor and modeling jobs, and other “opportunities” are used to entice victims. Big profits can be earned from trafficking victims. Perpetrators can be male or female. They are motivated by money, not sex.
Use caution. Be prepared to defend yourself and call out for help if you feel threatened. While it is not always necessary or desirable to travel or shop with friends, not being alone is safer than being alone. Also let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be home, even if you live alone.
Keep your faculties about you. Using mind-altering drugs and alcohol increases the risk of abduction.
If you plan to meet someone from the internet, to buy or sell something or to date, meet in a public place and send their photo to someone who is expecting it. Having their photograph can help law enforcement if the worst occurs.
Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 for assistance.
Are you being accused of a sex crime? Contact a Los Angeles sex trafficking Lawyer to learn your options. Begin your search to find an experienced sex crime lawyer in Los Angeles by calling (877) 977-7750.