You are here

IGF 2020 - Day 6 - WS 57 E-Human Trafficking: Understanding, Challenges, Opportunities

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

***

 

 

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Greetings and welcome to our webinar on ehuman trafficking.  I see we have ten attendees.  We will wait one or two more minutes for others to log on and then we'll begin our session.  Thank you.

Greetings and thank you for attending our session on etrafficking and understanding the programifications that this new dynamic topic of etrafficking poses.  We hope we will have some realistic policy to address the issues identified by our panel.  I hope to have engaging conversation of the audience towards the end of session.  My name is Jesse Routte, I'm with Three Stones International.  It maintains a presence on Sub‑Saharan Africa. 

Joining me are representatives of Global Initiative on Transinternational Crime and the Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights and members of academia.  They developed presentations to their background on this topic.  We have social workers, anthropologists, human rights, and legal experts who devoted a dedicated effort towards further articulated consequences of human trafficking moving online.

We have arranged a session in a manner in which each panelist will present on their selected topic.  And we will utilize the rest of our time together to offer an opportunity to pose comments or ask questions of our panelists.  I ask that the audience members utilize the sidebar chat in order to voice their comments and concerns, and I encourage comments throughout the duration of this, but especially at the end during the question‑and‑answer period.

I would like to start the presentation with an overview of human trafficking which will also provide potential ground up solutions to set the tone for this conversation.  This will be presented by Dr. Laine Munir.  Dr. Munir is an anthropologist with a background in legal development in Sub‑Saharan Africa.  Dr. Munir has experienced communicating with a global audience especially with a focus on value‑added and measurable outcomes.  She's invested in implied of ‑‑ of progressive scholarship in order to enhance understanding of gender equity issues at local, national and regional levels.

Dr. Munir, I leave it to you to proceed.  You are on mute.

>> LAINE MUNIR: Okay.  Thank you, Jesse, thank you for that warm introduction.  Good morning or good afternoon, wherever you are joining us from.  Thank you for being here.  So as Jesse mentioned, I'm an anthropologist working in Rwanda right now.  So I will first offer some ground level context on vulnerability to human trafficking, particularly for individuals in developing countries.  And then as our panel progresses, you will get further information on international or I would say higher level policy recommendations for this issue, but I'm really talking about ground level vulnerabilities for individuals and any policy recommendations at the end require low technological capacity and have a low cost.  So that's my focus of my research.

So to start off about this number varies greatly depending on which organization is collecting data, but about 70% of human trafficking victims detected human trafficking victims worldwide are female.  So men are also victims of human trafficking, but the majority are women and girls.  And so first I want to talk about some of the drivers for human trafficking, from the bottom up, that need to be identified.

So the first is obviously poverty and most of us already realize that, because poor people are more likely to take risks to provide for themselves and their family.

The good ‑‑ so there's good and bad news.  The good news is global poverty rates are going down.  The number of people who live in absolute poverty is much lower than it was 20 years ago.  The problem that political economists point out is that most of these cases of rising out of poverty come mostly from China, and some economists argue if you take China out of the measurements, it's in the going to down and specifically it's not going down in Africa.

That's something that we need to think about as we think of poverty as a driver.

The second driver is political instability.  As we know, war, civil unrest, violence, natural disasters create unstable conditions with limited options for people who are caught in them, and specifically, they separate children from their families, which is a driver for human trafficking.

Increasingly, as we face an immigration crisis across the globe, particularly in the Middle East and Europe, people end up in temporary settlements, which are unemployed and that leaves them vulnerable.  And traffickers can take advantage of these circumstances.

And I also want to emphasize as an environmental researcher that climate change is increasingly a driver for forced displacement that puts people in these temporary living situations, and leaves them vulnerable.  So this is really the Nexus of environmental change and human trafficking.

The third driver, this doesn't apply so much to Africa, but it's an extreme driver in central and South America, which is gang involvement.  And it's a driver for much of the forced ‑‑ human trafficking within the United States.  Women can be exploited through gang involvement, by entering as a girlfriend or romantic partner of a gang member and then they can be sold with and without the gang's for sexual acts and that's particularly salient in Central America.

The fourth driver, these are two separate issues but they often ‑‑ they can be intertwined and that's mental health issues and/or substance addiction, because anthropologists have found that people with mental health issues face a variety of challenges that make them vulnerable, such as social isolation, and particularly diminished capacity to consent and really a limited ability to assess risk and be able to detect ill intentions.

And then in turn, even once people have been trafficked, traffickers can use substance dependency and addiction to keep control of people who have become victims of human trafficking.  And these last two gang involvement and substance abuse issues, we find are often correlated with intimate relations trafficking.  So there's often a common misnomer, especially among the tech and the IT community, that human trafficking is typically strangers baiting strangers online, and what we find is that in ‑‑ as particularly for women, compared to men, that we have people who are victims of human trafficking, using technological means but their trafficker is someone they though, it's a family member, a romantic partner or someone in their community, unfortunately.  So I think when we think about technological responses to ehuman trafficking, we also have to keep in mind that it's not always a stranger finding vulnerable people online, that we can use the Internet within our own community to create these vulnerabilities.

And I think at this point in November of 2020, we're still just learning about how the impacts of COVID‑19 could possibly increase vulnerabilities to human trafficking, as the rate unemployment is going up because of the pandemic, people both perpetrators and victims, are seeking out in you forms of income and I think we can probably only see the results of this maybe next year.

And then particularly from Africa, in Africa, demographically, the average age here in Rwanda is 20 years old.  And with the youth bulge in a lot of countries what we have is lots of young people with technological know‑how who can use the Internet but proportionately very few older people who can monitor them.  And that's correlated to all forms of civil unrest and conflicts when you have a huge youth population and very few older people to help monitor their outcomes.

So just four pretty easy inexpensive policy recommendations that anthropologists are experimenting with, include unintegrating vulnerability, screening questions into intake and processing procedures at health facilities in high‑risk communities.  So asking all new patients who come in for health care questions related to vulnerability to human trafficking.  Two would be developing and providing for free high school or even middle school curricula, on human trafficking vulnerability to help young people be aware.

The third is training local law enforcement to separate human trafficking from illegal sex work.  So in a lot of ethnographic field work, we found a major problem is that local law enforcement treats victims of human trafficking as criminals who have willfully engaged in sex work, and, of course this creates a very negative cycle in which people feel afraid to go report their victimization to local law enforcement and then we get a gap between what's happening on the ground and what law enforcement can do to help victims.

Fourth is being rolled out in some communities in Central America, which is anonymous reporting of human trafficking, via SMS or text messaging to local law enforcement or to local NGOs and trying to use cell phones as a way of reporting human trafficking rather than simply being a tool for facilitating human trafficking.

So those are some ground level policy recommendations that we can think about that might ‑‑ other panelists will expound upon.

Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you, Dr. Munir, for setting the context and also providing some practical recommendations.

Our next panelist is representing the global initiative against transnational organized crime.  She will provide additional information about how technology is used and various phases of trafficking and consider challenges, technology poses when combatting trafficking.  Lucia bird is a senior analyst, and in her capacity, Lucia researches and writes on a broad range of organized crime types, internationally.  However, her focus today has been on the role of human smugglers as a vector for migration tracking, the vulnerabilities of migrates using smuggling services to exploitation by organized crime groups and also exploring how policy and legal change affects the dynamics of human smuggling and human trafficking markets in Africa.  This is in particular on the human rights of those on the move.

Previously, she worked with the planning and develop.  Of the Punjab government in Pakistan and before that in a similar role for the ministry of finance in Ghana.  Lucia, the floor is yours.

>> LUCIA BIRD: Good afternoon or good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us.  It's a pleasure to be here today.

I will be following on by sketching out how technology is being used by trafficking markets around the world, and taking a more macro and decentralized viewpoint geographically.

So advances in technology have been transforming illicit industries as dramatically as they have been changing their counter parts and the human trafficking is no different.

You may have already noted that there's a challenging in quantifying the scale of this crime, and who is measuring exactly what, but some estimates suggest that over 40 million people around the world are affected by human trafficking.  And although it's extremely difficult to quantify profits, it can be quite a profitable industry with perpetrators estimated to bring in at least 150 billion US dollars annually.

And unfortunately, although digital and network technologies have, of course, brought significant benefits with them around the world, they have also led to the emergence and expansion of cyber‑enabled human trafficking offenses and changed the trafficking landscape.  So in this presentation, I will scrutinize these impacts.  Give than there is limited time, I would like to flag that we at the Global Initiative look at this further in a report called "transformative technologies how digital is changing the landscape of organized crime" which is available on the Global Initiative website.  Now is a particularly important time to talk about tech‑enabled offenses because COVID‑19 and the measures introduced to counter it have shifted many offline activities online.  And illicit markets are no exception.

Already the role of technology is growing, in human trafficking and other forms of organized crime, but the role of technology is having further acceleration.

First, we want to note how technology is being used by networks and perpetrators in each of these steps.  Taken together, the opportunities that technology offer unfortunately means that both the risks and the costs to perpetrators can be reduced.  In particular, because in some context, those committing the acts of exploitation do not have to be physically present with the victims, which, of course, significantly diminishes the risks of interdiction.

So 2018 research found that under half of child trafficking victims met their traffickers face‑to‑face.  With the others using text, or messaging websites to communicate.

As we said, going through each step of the process, firstly in grooming and coercion, the chat rooms, the messaging apps and social media platforms like Facebook play an increasingly large role, and in particular, Instagram, which was found by recent research to be the most used by sex offenders to groom children.  So we are really not talking about the Dark Web yet.  This is all on the surface web and social media platforms that many of us will use ourselves.

Then turning to exploitation, unfortunately, the online ‑‑ the abuse can be conducted online, and then live streamed and recorded and distributed further.  In particular, life stream and peer‑to‑peer sharing networks which are increasingly common are extremely difficult to track because they occur for the set amount of time and then they stop.  So law enforcement need to be incredibly quick in order to identify them.

Then marketing and advertising the services of victims, again, online platforms on both the surface and the Dark Web are uses for this so websites such as Backpage and Craigslist have been used to market the services of victims although it has to be said that online child sexual abuse material, possibly because it's such a policy priority, is predominantly on the Dark Net.

And then finally to transfer the proceeds that are emerging from these trafficking crimes, crypto currencies such as bit coin have been used by traffickers to both get the proceeds ‑‑ so those are joining, for example, a peer‑to‑peer live streaming network have to in some cases have to pay for this and the transfer to the producer and streamer of the material may well use crypto currencies.

And the networks abuse these to distribute funds to the other criminal networks.  Human trafficking is a form of organized crime that really is distinguished from some other areas of organized crime that I have been looking into and really has made use of the opportunities offered by both the Dark Net and the crypto currencies to engage in operations.

So a few key changes have been driven in the trafficking markets by growth and technology.  Firstly, in many contexts, technology appears to have flattened trafficking structures.  So they are less hierarchical and less interconnected.  As I already mentioned, it enhances anonymity, and it's key to bear in mind that wide spread Internet penetration, although, of course, carrying huge benefits also creates a significant vulnerability and that we are seeing spikes in the production of online child sexual abuse materials in areas where it was not quite so common, which track across growth in Internet penetration.

Turning quickly to the impact of COVID‑19, as I mentioned, it has really had significant impact on the shape of illicit markets and one area for which we have quite a lot of data is regarding the production and the dissemination of online material.  We can track the significant growth in both the demand and the supply of this kind of material.

So national law enforcement agencies together with Europol tracked a spike in the number of attempts to access websites that feature such material, including in Spain and in Denmark, and increases in attempts to initiate online contact with children for the purposes of online exploitation.

Unfortunately, as Europe headed into the first set of lockdowns in March, Europe had the significant acceleration in the volume of child sexual abuse materials being posted on online forums.

In some countries such as Spain, this increase was huge.  So between the 17th and the 24th of March, national law enforcement authorities in Spain reported a 25% increase in detected connections from which child sexual abuse material was downloaded.

Of course, it's difficult to identify exactly why these spiked occurred, but some theories is that it's linked to the increase in unsupervised children at home, the increase in working from home dynamics and unfortunately newly produced abuse material will multiply online and remain available until it's taken down.  While if there are new perpetrators these are likely to remain after the pandemic.

Unfortunately, this means we may be looking at a long‑term expansion of the online human trafficking market.  Although those immediate spikes in March increased as many countries are heading into phase two of lockdown, its yet to be seen whether we will see a renewed acceleration.

Turning to responses.  Firstly, a couple of tech‑specific challenges.  So encryption poses a huge challenge to detecting and combatting and monitoring online content, and the use of tech for human trafficking purposes.

So the ‑‑ firstly as I mentioned, the wide spread use of encrypted communication services by trafficking perpetrators to communicate between themselves and to also contact victims and contact consumers of services of these victims, make these communications extremely difficult to track.  It also means when end‑to‑end encryption is used, it cannot be screened by private sector platforms which limits their ability to block or remove inappropriate content and encryption brings with it many benefits particularly from a privacy and data protection sphere.  And therefore, it's being increasingly adopted.  So Facebook has announced that all of its services will be fully encrypted in the next few years.  So there is extremely concerning for law enforcement bodies and it suggests that the challenges posed by encryption to monitor detection are yet to increase.

Secondly, cybersecurity regulation remains patchy and affects all forms of cybercrime.  In particular, the vacuum of Internet of Things legislation translates into an unregulated marketplace for Internet of Things devices and this is of particular relevance to human trafficking markets because traffickers can and have tracked devices to identify profile, recruit victims and simply just to immediately record material that, you know, without the knowledge of those being recorded.

So turning to policy responses.  As you have tracked throughout the presentation, social networking sites ecommerce platforms and Internet service providers play a significant and growing role in human trafficking markets.

So really, the principle policy recommendation is that they should play similarly large role in addressing them.  Now to date, most jurisdictions do not require Internet service providers to monitor for content relating to illicit markets.  Instead, marriage social networking sites such as Facebook or Google implement internal policies to remove content and respond to government requests for data or requests for removals of data on the basis of national laws.  And the private sector already does a lot.  Both unilaterally and also in the form of multi‑stakeholder initiatives such as tech against trafficking.  However, there's growing demands among policymakers for the private sector no do more and this is partly because of the recognition of this scale of the challenge that law enforcement authorities and state authorities face in regulating the Internet.

So however although there's consensus around the fact that greater engagement is needed, there's less concerns around exactly what this looks like, but we are in an absolutely pivotal moment in this debate that is currently being discussed in the UK, the US and around the world and it centers on two key questions, firstly the liability of the inter‑sector liabilities and the criminal offenses including human trafficking; and secondly, and this is connected to the liability point, the statutory duty of care, whether such platform providers have a duty of care to monitor and remove content.

One idea that has been proposed is that the liability be limited to an extent, however, that service providers should comply with the statutory code of practice, regulated by public sector entity and be liable for sanctions to breach of this code.  There are significant time limitations and I will stop there and we can hear from the other panelists, however, I would encourage you to take a look at the further analysis on the role of tech and criminal offenses in the report titles transformative technologies on the global initiative website.

Thank you very much.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  I did put the link to the publication in the chat.  And I encourage you to access that for what Lucia and her organization are doing.  Thank you very much, Lucia.  I hope that there will be some questions from the audience for you, during the Q&A in a few minutes.

Now moving on to Mr. Farahat.  Mohamed Farahat is an Egyptian lawyer with 12 years of human rights working with refugees in Egypt.  He joined the Egyptian Foundation for Refugees Rights in 2014, and is currently serving as the program's director.

In addition to that work, Mr. Farahat has served as a national coordinator in Egypt for the African civil society for Information Society, starting in 2017, and before that, he worked for Africa Middle East refugee assistance in Egypt, as an access to justice team leader.  He's also worked for international commission for jurists as the legal researcher and holds a law degree from Cairo university, and is a faculty of high African studies in Cairo University.  Mr. Farahat, the floor is yours.

>> MOHAMED FARAHAT: Thank you, everyone.  I would like to thank all of my panelists, Dr. Munir and Ms. Bird for the introductions.  I don't want to repeat ourselves and don't repeat what my colleagues mentioned during their interventions.

So my presentation will directly focus on a specific ‑‑ it's about the rank between the human trafficking ‑‑ the electronic trafficking and the process.

So now most transactions is transformed to be online, and the abusers they start to use the technology and online platforms to recruit the workers from other countries.  So really, I focus in the cross‑border human process.  This process is ‑‑ as my colleagues mentioned before, that they use that technology to recuse persons and jobs in other countries and it's a promise the person or the victims of high salary and good life in other countries, especially in the time of COVID‑19, there's now, many workers are affected by COVID‑19.  Many, many persons, workers now lost their jobs.  So they are now ‑‑ they are vulnerable, the most vulnerable person, not in a specific region, but all the world.

So they are a potential victim for the trafficking so aligned applications and platforms.  So what the solution or this presentation is focused on one of the solutions to ‑‑ to combat the trafficking, the align trafficking is through.  What is the process?  In simple words, it's to ensure the workers come from other countries, who are involved in cross‑border human process, they enjoy all human rights.  All human rights despite for the workers.  They have the right to know that they have a written contract, and a known salary and everything about nature and the type of work and the place and the country, they are located.

So one of the gaps that ‑‑ of course, is a problem to track as Lucia mentioned, that it's difficult to track the different application and transactions through the online, and to know what the ‑‑ the online now is most ‑‑ we can say that the most safe place for the traffickers to start to commit their crimes, because they ensure that in had advance, they will not track by anyone, or it's difficult.  Especially when using the new technologies, like the websites, that need specific terms of TOR to access to this website, that is mentioned ‑‑ (Telephone ringing).

So the Dark Web site.  So it's not easy to access this.  They know this technology and they use this technology to start or commit and organize their crimes, especially in trafficking.  So it is ‑‑ they start to do that online with the difficulties.  As I mentioned, they are in advance ensuring that they will not be tracked by any authorities in any countries.

So the problem, how we can encounter this aligned practices.  I think one of this is ‑‑ all countries have to make sure that all legislation is consistent with the international standards for the government to process and also to make sure that their realization is tried to cover this new form of crimes.

I think I ‑‑ I trust that most of the audience, the first time they hear what about what etrafficking and I think there is a question of what is etrafficking and so this ‑‑ and I think ‑‑ I believe that this is the first time to be discussed during IGF.

So this ‑‑ this is an issue and we have focus on how to encounter the trafficking is related to the process, because as I mentioned, this is one of the areas, I think this is a trafficker ‑‑ they are more active in this area because it's very difficult to be tracked and to access.

I would like to conclude this presentation because the presentation, as I mentioned, the aim of this presentation is to highlight the link of etrafficking and the recruitment process and we have to be more focused and to choose that it's ethical and we ensure all the rights of migrant workers before they leave their country of residence to come to the country of ‑‑ to their work.

So I would like to conclude with some recommendations.  The first recommendation is that all states should ensure that their national laws, especially for the trafficking laws can go through the litigation process.  And I would recommend that all the national labor organizations should adopt a new binding legal document or amended and include etrafficking and ways to combat.  And I ‑‑ there's competent resources in every country and institution, who are responsible for combatting the cybercrimes and the human trafficking should pay specific attention to the trafficking.

And a recommendation that if IGF members keep including etrafficking in general, and in ‑‑ especially on the agenda in common area meetings.  And also in general recommendation, I think civil society and national organizations and the governments have to review the existence of international legal framework to assist if still valid to cope with etrafficking or not.

So I would like to end by not the recommendation, but as an invitation.  I call all interested people, in the audience or attend this session to form a Working Group under the IGF Secretariat to review the international legal framework lead to the etrafficking.  So in the end, if anyone interested to be part of this Working Group, to prepare for this Working Group to review the international laws related to etrafficking and you can contact me or anyone from the organizer.  We can start to think about this ‑‑ this Working Group and to prepare and organize and we take actions to get this idea off the ground.

Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you very much, Mohamed.  I'm glad you have a way forward for us, very high level engagement.

Our final panelist, Irene Routte.  Irene is a doctoral student at University of Michigan, in a joint program in social work and social cultural anthropology.  Her research is focused on refugee resettlement, forced migration and displacement and centers around how people are in relationship with their built and natural environment and how these fluid relationships affect the well‑being and community and resilience.  She has conducted research for Harvard, as a member of the human policy Working Group in the past and before entering her doctoral program, Irene manages a social justice leadership program at the university of Portland.

She's also worked for many years as a clinical case manager with unaccompanied refugee youth in both New York and Boston, where she specialized in working with survivors of trafficking.

Irene has a master's in social work from the University of Michigan, a master's in anthropology Harvard divinity school and a bachelor from Princeton University.  Irene, the floor is yours.

>> IRENE ROUTTE: Thank you so much, and thank you all for being here.

Today, I want to look at the intersection of technology and trafficking, with a focus on vulnerable individuals and on‑the‑ground interventions.

And specifically, with the sentiment that if technology can harm, so as my colleagues were saying, through recruitment activities and technologies of control, it can also heal.

So according to a 2018 Polaris report.  So Polaris is one of the anti‑trafficking NGOs based out of the US.  So according to their study, three‑fourth of survivors use Internet platforms during their exploitation and 40% of survivors use private messaging on social media apps to communicate with service providers.

So clearly, the development of new digital apps in cloud‑based web interfaces that focuses on connection with support systems is our greatest means of intervention.  But what does this look like or what could this look like?

I want to share three types of intervention that could be supported by governments and executed by private tech companies and NGOs and these interventions are all focused on point of victim survivor use or interaction.

So the first intervention is based on increased sharing of information and connection to service providers.  So technologists are continuing to develop new tools for detection disruption and reporting trafficking but more needs to be done for are to access and service providers.  In addition to photo DNA or other photo hash systems which assist in the detection of exploited photo media, there's new AI software applications that have been developed specifically for suicide prevention interventions.

These may be a good fit and a good model for anti‑trafficking interventions going forward.  The software flagged certain language on a user and then offers assistance so information targeted ads will pop up, help lines advertisements, et cetera.

Of course, privacy considerations and opt in agreements or extremely important, especially as we think about privacy concerns for those who are the most vulnerable.  But this is a step towards new platforms that are designed from the beginning to embed methods of sharing information, particularly in linking victims to service providers.

The second intervention is based around the creation and the expansion of networks.  While isolation is a method of control that traffickers use to exploit individuals, technology can create horizontal or peer‑to‑peer connections building trusted social networks between those who are going through similar experiences.

Having access to peer‑to‑peer networks is key in creating safety plans and also in exiting.  They also provide platforms for lifting up experiences and self‑empowerment.  This not only ties back to strengthen systems of crust that disrupt the balance that traffickers exploit, but it's alternative pathways to justice.

A really great example of this is OFW Watch, OFW Watch, based in the Philippines and focused on labor trafficking is a free, open source location tracking mobile platform that allows overseas workers to download a contact list of other workers near them.  They are signed up through their Facebook or other social media accounts and if there's no activity on their social media for a preset length of time, other OFW members or staff are notified.  So this really creates kind of a holistic safety net around people who opt in.

Along with thinking about ways to create and expand horizontal networks, building apps that are accessible and usable to individuals who are vulnerable is key.  So apps that embed private messaging, disappearing messaging or jail location services and social network location, it allows for public check‑ins for service providers or support networks is important.

And overall, this is just an important reminder and recommendation of thinking about design thinking from a tech perspective that is always trauma‑informed and trafficking is informed.

And then the third intervention I would like to address looks at recovery and support for survivors of trafficking.

So psychological entanglements often cause them to return due to trauma bonding.  Due to multifaceted levels of trauma, a memory disorder called fragmentation occurs which complicated testimony or throws testimony into doubt, if survivors do decide to prosecute.

Due to these two things and others, are having consistent access to psychological supports is necessary for survivors of trafficking to prevent return and support full healing and reconnection to their communities.

Since COVID‑19, we have seen significant gaps in access to mental health care, but we have also seen huge increases in use of teletherapy and the development of new tech‑based therapeutic modalities, in particular, therapy apps that are done through messaging in order to ensure confidentiality for those living in close quarters.  These include asynchronous store and forward technology where messages, images or data are collected at one point in time and interpreted or responded to later.

Evidence‑based therapeutic modalities that are now being made more accessible through tech‑based tools should be looked at as an important tool in anti‑trafficking work prevention and intervention.

So these examples of these three interventions digital apps and cloud‑based web interfaces that focus on connection with information, service providers, creating peer‑to‑peer networks and connection to evidence‑based therapeutic systems not only support survivors but also can be used in creative and effective ways to support those in positions of trafficking remain hopeful and find strategies of exit.

Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Great.  Thank you very much, Irene.  And the panelists in general.  I think we covered a lot of ground in a very short amount of time, and I appreciate that this isn't something that will come to a conclusion here, but as Mohamed recommends, there should be additional conversations that we hope to continue and I think Mohamed will share his contact information for further discussion.

I would like to start off the question‑and‑answer period and I would like to start with a question to pose to Lucia.

Lucia, you mentioned a little bit about the issues with tracking, illicit activity and encryption and I wonder if you could talk about how you track illicit activities who are operating on unlisted and purposefully opaque networks and if you could elaborate on whose role it is to address these illicit activities whether it be like regional bodies.  You mentioned the private sector in your comments but maybe elaborate a little bit more on whose responsibilities and who we should be really focused on in engaging at this stage to address etrafficking.

So I will leave it to you, Lucia, to fill us in a little bit more.

>> LUCIA BIRD: Thank you, Jesse.  I will take those questions I suppose together.  And look actually first at the question of who, and to some extent, this does depend on whether we're talking about surface web or Dark Net activity.

When we talk about the surface web, it's certainly important that law enforcement and cybercrime and agencies are involved in on monitoring and taking down content.  It's important to understand that trafficking can take place using technology, and sometimes trafficking using technology doesn't look the same as offline trafficking, but it still meets the legal definitions and therefore, requires the same focus.

But as I highlighted previously, right at the heart of the response in terms of surface web activity will be the private sector.

And perhaps to give an illustration, of this, and in particular, how encryption does pose a huge problem.  Facebook, one of the best-known platforms was responsible for 94% of the almost 70 million child sexual abuse materials reported by the US tech firms.

However, if Facebook introduces that end‑to‑end encryption, then these reports will L. vanish because they will be unable to detect this.  This is not because most of the abuse material is on Facebook, but because Facebook is the most diligent in screening its platform, and at the moment it does not use these encryption technologies.

And there are these tensions between the two debates, particularly around encryption, and it ‑‑ and it's kind of positive power in the context of privacy.

But it's key to balance these data protection privacy concerns against the ability to detect and enforce against crime, and also we should bear in mind the privacy, of course, of the victims themselves.

When we're talking about the surface web but also to an greater extent, law enforcement bodies are extremely important here and although the Dark Net really poses significantly challenge, and law enforcement bodies are able to increasingly track an trace within it.  I would like to use 1 March 2020 takedown, because it exemplifies a couple of dynamics which lie at the heart of this successful tracking tracing.

So this was the March 2020 takedown of a Dark Net child sexual abuse site, called Dark Scandals which had images of nonconsensual and violent abuse.  It's been operated since 2012, until obviously March 2020, when it was taken down and it posted over 2,000 images and videos and the administrator had reportedly made almost $2 million, but through the cooperation between the Dutch police, the US authorities and Europol, they arrested the administrator and bring down a number of legal prosecutions and at the heart of this is cross‑border intelligence sharing and that's absolutely pivotal to illicit activities on the Internet.  A huge challenge is that the Internet is cross border and cross jurisdictional and this has to be at the heart of it and these multi‑stakeholder and regional law enforcement, like Europol and Interpol will be extremely important to responses.

Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you very much, Lucia.  And moving on, I have a question for Laine, we would like to know a little bit more about what is important.  We talked about policy and also local level solutions.  So what should be focused on, the higher level policy regional efforts or the look at cultural and social behavior change at the community level, and, you know, from your perspective as an anthropologist, what would you recommend?

>> LAINE MUNIR: Well, I think the ideal approach would be top down and bottom up meeting together and being interactive, right?  Because in general, the issue with human trafficking is we have a gap between law on the books and high-level policy and then the realities of what life is actually like for trafficking victims on the ground.

So Lucia is an expert on the top down and my background is more in the bottom up.  So maybe you can take both of our messages together.

So one of the reasons why current legal frameworks have not worked is because they fail to take into account what we call everyday insecurities in anthropology.  So the first of that is in several ethnographic studies what we found is that human trafficking victims actually understood that they were about to be human trafficked before they left their home and before they left their country, but they were too far into the process to seek help from their families.  And this had a couple of reasons.

One, they were under the age of 18.  They were minors, and their families didn't know they had a phone.  And two, their families didn't know they had a social media account.  And this was ‑‑ I have done some research in the Punjab region of Pakistan, the families didn't know that the girls had social media or phones.  They couldn't turn for help, because they weren't supposed to be online in the first place.

Secondly, in a lot of areas, especially rural areas, women live very far from law enforcement agencies and it is unsafe for them to travel alone to seek help if they can't seek out their families.  So there's all of these levels of safety nets that should exist for victims, but it's very difficult to get past them.  So even if you were to move past your family, you live far from a police station, and even if you do have access to law enforcement officials, oftentimes in post‑colonial contest, south Asia, Sub‑Saharan Africa, we have legal pluralism which is the coexistence of multiple legal systems in some times.  You some vestiges of indigenous law and local law and state official law since innocence.  And when it comes to issues of youth and women, those issues are considered a family matter by police.

So if you have an issue with a youth or especially a young woman, that is not a real legal issue.  That is an issue for her family to settle within the community by a local leader.

So in places where we have legal pluralism, that actually ‑‑ these multiple legal systems instead of giving possible victims multiple options for getting help, it actually confounds their options for getting help.

So this ‑‑ and I think it ‑‑ this is particularly salient because we also need to acknowledge that not all human trafficking crosses borders.  And Lucia mentioned how important it is cross border data sharing absolutely, but what happens when the victim of human trafficking doesn't cross an international border and is actually an IDP, an internally displaced person, they have never crossed a border.  So how do we get data on them when they are sent from, for example where I study, south of Pakistan to the north of Pakistan.

So those are just some things for us to keep in mind.  Maybe Irene has a different approach to how we can solve these sort of, like, community‑level conflicts that help human trafficking victims unable to get help.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you, Elaine and thank you for elaborating more on that.  I think we will skip ahead because there was a very important aspect that was brought up, and, you know, you were talking about social norms and culture, but then there is a difference between what's in the communities versus what's online and on the web.

So I was hoping that maybe Lucia could spend a minute or two just clarifying further what, you know, social considerations would be made on the web and how that differs from community.

>> LUCIA BIRD: Of course.  And just to quickly to add what Laine was saying, unfortunately sometimes when activities occur online, the social norms around them see these activities as less damaging than were those activities conducted offline.  We have encountered this across organized crime markets.  So many individuals who would purchase things offline feel comfortable doing so online and in the context of human trafficking, unfortunately, many ‑‑ we have seen that in many countries, the involvement of children and adults in online sexual acts is seen as less damaging than physical sexual acts.  And therefore, in some areas, particularly in parts of Asia, parents have sometimes encouraged the participation of their children in online sexual acts in exchange for money, which is in line with the perception that this is not particularly damage.

So social norms around online acts and purchases really need to shift slightly, so that the norms and practices that we apply in our everyday offline lives simply govern our interactions online.

Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you very much, Lucia, for clarifying that.  And as we come to the end of our session, I would like to perhaps give Mohamed another opportunity to give some final thoughts surrounding etrafficking.  I would like to kind of maybe pose the question or idea that was mentioned by one of the ‑‑ by one of the audience members that etrafficking must exist since the 1830s and there was trafficking with telephone, perhaps.  Maybe you can clarify that and then give us some final words regarding your thoughts and maybe a way forward.

>> MOHAMED FARAHAT: The question is a very interesting question, but the problem, is yes, it may be ‑‑ we can ‑‑ we can call it etrafficking, but the problem now is very different, because we cannot access the etrafficker through the online because many, many accounts ‑‑ all persons working in IT field knows the difficulties to track the person online.

So for that, and let me take from what Lucia had mentioned and what Dr. Munir mentioned about law enforcement.  So to solve this problem, I know Dr. Munir and Lucia have a legal background like me.  So ‑‑ but the law is not enough to solve all the purpose and even as a legal person, if we need to solve something legally, we have to involve with other aspects to ‑‑ to the design this.  So we cannot as legal state together and draft the laws to combat the etrafficking.  We need the person who specialized in cyber security.  We need the person from technical areas in the ‑‑ in the area of the Internet to give us what happens exactly in the deep website, in the Dark Web site.  Because we don't know.  We don't fully aware what happens exactly in these techniques.  So we need this person to share with us their source of these techniques and as a legal, we can think about what the solution and these difficulties.

So as mentioned, the last thing I would like to end is I think this is very good start to discuss this topic, during IGF.  I think we have one year from now to the next IGF meeting, we have to discuss or to build on our session today and to take another dip and tackle another issue to keep ‑‑ to ensure that we keep the etrafficking issue be discussed in the agenda of IGF.

And as I mentioned during my presentation, that I'm very interested to form a group, a Working Group to discuss in detail what the legal aspects or how to solve ‑‑ to review the legal framework to etrafficking.  Of course, this Working Group as I mentioned will not include legal person only, but will include all persons from different areas and fields to try to solve it.

If we ‑‑ if we could to form this work group and we start work from now to the next year, I think we will build on our decisions, our discussions today and we will come with at least some overview about what the legal framework is suitable to solve this problem, or we can reach to, like, the modern law that can be used by any category, not only the international legal framework but also we can urge to national framework.  Thank you.

>> JESSE ROUTTE:  Thank you very much, Mohamed.  I would like to thank all of our panelists for an insightful discussion.  I would like to thank the audience that were able to attend and provide some very insightful questions and I would like to challenge us all to continue thinking about this topic of etrafficking and perhaps at the next IGF we'll be able to present some additional solutions and show our progress.

So once again, thank you, everyone, for your participation.  It was great to have this discussion.  I hope this isn't the end to this conversation.

I hope everyone has a great rest of your day and take care, everyone.

 

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411