Home Blog Criminal Investigations Beating Human Trafficking on the Deep & Dark Web


Beating Human Trafficking on the Deep & Dark Web

July 27, 2020

With an estimated 25 million victims of human trafficking globally, authorities are always working to identify effective ways to identify and prosecute traffickers, many of whom use the anonymity of the dark web to carry out their crimes.

Though a higher number of women have been identified as being victims of human trafficking, since the early 2000s the number of cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation has declined while the number of cases of trafficking for forced labor has increased.

A 2018 report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime showed that trafficking for forced labor had a higher rate in Africa and the Middle East, while Europe and North America had a higher rate of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Data released by the US State Department found that of the 118,932 victims of human trafficking identified in 2019, only 11,841 traffickers were prosecuted, and out of that only 9,568 were convicted.

Like other criminals, human traffickers don’t play by the rules. Often linked to global, transnational organized crime, they use all the tricks in the dark web book to avoid detection, including elaborate encryption and constantly switching between profiles and sites.

But authorities are fighting back and using advanced artificial intelligence algorithms and big data tools to scour all levels of the internet, including the dark web, to carry out human trafficking investigations and identify and catch traffickers.

Dark web monitoring software developed by Cobwebs with methodologies that meet requirements of law enforcement agencies across the globe allows for authorities to identify human trafficking on the dark web and even engage with traffickers with full anonymity providing additional evidence should the individual be brought to trial.

With the seamless integration of new data sources, Cobwebs’ web intelligence platform can also be used to provide real-time content monitoring able to scan images,  and texts which provide unmatched situational awareness.

While some posts might seem benign to the human eye, online investigation tools and media intelligence platforms can provide valuable intelligence in identifying suspects and concrete threats of human trafficking.

As investigators collect a mountain of data during human trafficking investigations, it is crucial to make use of big data for the collection and management of the data. Using Cobwebs’ solutions, authorities then analyze that data in a strategic way while receiving real-time alerts for any similar cases from the AI-powered platform.

And while traffickers may not be using the same handle from site to site, they are signaling to their customers with their content and language such as similar ads and interactions. Signals such as these can be identified and be used to link various profiles as belonging to the same individual and even uncloak the identities of their network on the dark web.

The advanced and unmatched solutions provided by Cobwebs provide authorities an unprecedented view of the dark web activities by human traffickers. Instead of asking ‘how to identify human trafficking on the dark web’, authorities are now able to say ‘we identified and prevented human trafficking on the dark web.’


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