This year, the news headlines of human trafficking and child exploitation took the world by storm. Although these horrific crimes have been going on for a long time, the onset of COVID lockdowns across the globe sent human trafficking, abuse, and child exploitation statistics soaring. It has also become even more evident in the year 2020 that there is still a huge gap of resources for the law enforcement community to successfully track, rescue, and protect our world’s most precious resource—our children.
1 in 4 slaves are children with 150 billion dollars generated every year, making it the largest criminal enterprise in the world.
Human trafficking calls have soared 259% since 2008. The problem is continuing to grow at alarming rates. In the first 48 hours, the majority of runaways become vulnerable targets that end up being recruited by traffickers. Currently, 1 in 4 children globally are sexually abused in their homes, which creates a higher risk for these children to be trafficking victims. In 2019 alone, there were 16.9 million tips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which shows the magnitude of this crime.
At a recent event, Intel partnered with Irex to bring some of the top leading experts in human trafficking and child exploitation to discuss real-world solutions utilizing the power of AI and facial recognition technology. The round-table discussion panel was led by Gary Fowler, Co-founder and CEO of Irex with 25+ years in the field of AI, who was named top ten AI executives and who launched iconic organizations such as Yva.ai and ClickSoftware.
The top leading intelligence experts and thought leaders joining the discussion were Kevin Metcalf, a former federal agent turned prosecutor and founder of the National Child Protection Taskforce, which brings together experts, training, and resources that are underfunded in most law enforcement agencies to collaboratively fight and protect victims of child exploitation and trafficking. Kevin Branzetti is the current Deputy Chief of Intelligence at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for criminal, financial, terrorism, and cyber-intelligence among others.
David Luna joins the panel as a former US diplomat and National Security Official as well as a globally recognized strategic thought leader on transnational threats, international affairs, geopolitical risks, illicit trade, threat finance, and global illicit economies. Mr. Luna is also the founder of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies and has recently announced a dynamic partnership with Irex to introduce revolutionary AI-driven technologies to fight illicit trade across markets.
Amy Storer is an Intelligence Analyst for Homeland Security specializing in Human Slavery & Child Exploitation Investigations. Amy Storer previously worked at Washington D.C Headquarters with collective experience at the National Targeting Center, the Tactical Intelligence Cell, the National Intelligence Watch, and the Office of the White House Liaison. Amy is also a professor and researcher speaking from the heart on a topic that she believes is the greatest crisis in world history with human slavery and child exploitation
In this eye-opening discussion, they covered how each of their operations is developing real-world solutions to combat human trafficking. However, it is evident that with limited resources, they need more solutions that will assist in the fight against trafficking. There is a lot of room for error when profiling missing children and their traffickers by photograph or current video surveillance. These solutions would increase in accuracy and speed with the use of AI and Irex facial recognition technology.
How Can AI Technology Solve This Crisis?
Kevin Metcalf shared how his team is comprised of ex-military volunteers, law enforcement, and technology professionals bringing a dynamic force together to deepen how they work from legal strategy, open-source to dark web investigations.
“What we’re seeing is that there is so much going on out there. Amy barely scratched the surface of what we are seeing. There are multiple aspects of this organized crime. Child exploitation, drugs, property crimes, homicides, etc. However, they are all connected. AI allows us to take a deeper dive into all data sets, including language and cultural barriers. Unfortunately, Congress and other government officials are limiting the use of AI in relation to privacy concerns,” said Kevin Metcalf.
Kevin Branzetti says, “We want the private sector to take responsibility for the facial recognition technology at their locations so that we can work with them to only pull the information related to missing children if that was the last location they may have been seen.”
David Luna added that “it takes collective action to take down criminal networks, leveraging leadership across DHS, FBI, state and local law enforcement, and NCPT.”
Amy Storer stated that “these crimes can happen to anyone and their families so it will take community involvement spreading awareness, writing to local and state lawmakers to make a difference and get victims the help they need.”
“This is an incredible time to make a difference and get involved to push these solutions forward to bring children home for the holidays,” said Gary Fowler, CEO of IREX.
As we can see there is a fine line between justice and privacy when it comes to facial recognition technology and the public sector, which makes it a big hoop to jump through. Using this type of technology and raising funds within the private sector could ultimately alleviate the issue of privacy concerns so that we can make the protection and safety of missing, exploited, and trafficked children our number one priority.
Learn more about Irex through www.irex.ai.
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