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Organized human trafficking and slave trade are two of the major challenges for national security. In the current situation, specialized information on practices and trafficking routes, as well as means for identifying victims and refugees would be vital aspects for fighting these types of crimes, as well as supporting the affected persons. Currently, authorities are increasingly restrained by the problem of infeasible identification resulting in unreliable to no information.

The main aim of this project lies in researching on how to (i) analyze routes for human trafficking, (ii) detect minors and (iii) identify people. We plan on utilizing information derived from identification documents collected at the border, as well as information stored in smartphones that were supplied to the authorities by free will of the owners. Especially smartphones collect a multitude of diverse data which can be used for the identification of human traffickers and their routes. In this project it is essential to care for the legal and social component, especially regarding data protection, fundamental rights and behavior towards people in need.

In addition to information that can be used directly for the identification, and are therefore often not stored on the phones, other interesting information sources are provided by smartphones, e.g. useful for identifying country of origin, or coordinates on the route in photos, as well as contact persons in different countries. Thus, this data can be vital for identifying cases of human trafficking: (i) The communication patterns not only give indication on the country of origin and cultural background (language, frequent calls), but can also reveal essential information on the organization of the human traffickers ring like numbers and coordinates. (II) Meta information like language settings or the position of the first activation can reveal details on the route too. (III) Some refugees store photos of important documents on their smartphones in case of loss.

Especially concerning the analysis of communication patterns, we will focus on novel approaches like Messenger-Apps instead of only normal phone calls, as well as more hidden forms of communication like Game-Chats. We will provide means for efficient extraction of the required information in a mobile environment that can be used in the field. also of special interest will be the identification of minors, means for cross-national cooperation and integration into governmental processes, as well as protection of sensitive data and the detection and visualization of trends in human trafficking. Furthermore, the legal component of this project is of vital importance, as the potential applications might result in legally and ethically difficult situations.

For more information contact Peter Kieseberg at pkieseberg@sba-research.org

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