A passionate group hacker came together at the MIT STATA Center to fight sext trafficking at Hacking 4 Freedom. In partnership with the MIT Innovation Initiative and with support from non-profits across the country, industry sponsors, state and local law enforcement, Hacking 4 Freedom was an inspirational fusion of programming for human rights.
On a rainy Saturday morning in October, teams attended workshops on the current state of sex trafficking in the US. Hearing first-hand from the Massachusetts State Police, non-profit leaders and technology experts on the challenges that law enforcement, prosecutors and non-profits face in the day-to-day work of ending sex trafficking. Armed with laptops, a long list of problem statements, and data provided by Seattle Against Slavery and Uncharted Software, the hackers spent the next 24 plus hours building solutions. The judges were thrilled with the final products, all of which addressed immediate challenges within the counter trafficking industry. Check out the list of winning teams below:
Congratulations to all of our Hacking 4 Freedom teams on all their impressive work!
1st Case Builder – An evidence parser for PDF files to support law enforcement
2nd Kaleidoscope – An .mbox analysis tool to help law enforcement prioritize emails obtained from subpoenas with open source, exploratory data tool
3rd Clever Bots – Development of a "bot score" and "buyer profile" for current counter trafficking bots
Modelling social determinants of Human trafficking
In the past month, many teams have gone on to work on their projects in expanded settings partnering with law enforcement and non-profits to facilitate further development of their tools and models.
Hacking 4 Freedom challenge:
The focus is on data analytics, using technology to understand the scope, prevalence, and complexity of sex trafficking systems in the US. Lack of accurate data and analytics is a major obstacle in assessing impact of policy, law enforcement initiatives and survivor services.
Technical solutions have the potential to be extraordinarily powerful given the increasingly extensive use of technology in this pattern of offending. However, the technical challenges are not trivial. At the same time, some of these groups are very low tech, which enables them to operate well below the radar. Challenges exist across nature, scope, prevalence and complexity. Different people -- victims, facilitators, and consumers -- are involved in trafficking for different reasons and in very different ways. With high levels of complexity, all these factors must be considered in addressing this challenge.