Computer Crime Research Center


Technology Is a Double-Edged Sword: Illegal Human Trafficking in the Information Age

Date: March 05, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Judge Mohamed CHAWKI and Dr. Mohamed WAHAB

... they stalked boys online and eventually travelled to meet them. They ranged in age from 17 to 56, with a mean age of 35, and the following age distribution: 17 to29 (38%), 30s (25%), 40s (27%), and 50s (10%). Most, but not all, of these stalkers collected child pornography. Four of the men travelled internationally from Canada, Netherlands and Norway, and the others travelled from 10 different states in the United States. A few of the stalkers sent money, bus or airline tickets for the boys to use to run away and meet them.
3. The Buyers
Those who use the Internet to search for women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation seem to be mostly traveling businessmen, local men reporting on local prostitution, or students. Some of them say they consult newsgroups or Web sites before they travel and even print out the information to take with them. Some of the men write about their experiences buying women for the purpose of sexual exploitation as a way of reliving the experience. Some include a lot of graphic details that indicate they are getting enjoyment out of reliving the experience through writing about it.
B) The Scope of the Phenomenon
Having defined the concept of trafficking in women, it becomes necessary to determine the scope of the problem. This involves examination of not only the number of human beings trafficked each year, but also their characteristics, what makes them vulnerable to being manipulated ,where they are coming from, and what conditions they suffer once in this situation.

1) Prerequisites of Trafficking
In fact, the main reasons for trafficking in human beings are economic. After the fall of the communist bloc, there were economic crises in most of the countries of South East Europe. The high number of unemployed caused great difficulties for families. They were in dire need for jobs and financial resources. Thus, the fell victims to trafficking of human beings. Secondly, there are educational reasons, especially the lack of an appropriate level of education. Most of the victims of trafficking are poor and not well educated. Today, women are mainly trafficked from South to North, from South to South and from East to West. The flows are from poorer countries to countries where the standard of living for an average person is relatively higher. The fact that lesser developed countries, populations are used for trafficking supports the recognition of a right to development as a human right. Trafficking is linked with forced prostitution that follows false promises of well-paid jobs. The seemingly economic hopelessness in the Newly Independent States, transitional economies opened what experts call the most lucrative market of all to Russian criminal gangs. Law-enforcement officials and relief groups all agree that Ukrainian and Russian women are now the most valuable in the trade. Although accurate statistics are difficult to find, the United Nations estimates that 4 million people throughout the world are trafficked each year.
2) The Magnitude of this Phenomenon
Concerning trafficking in children and women for sexual exploitation in Europe, two geographical areas merit a mention. The Western and the Northern parts of Europe, which serve as destination areas, and Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union which serve as transit areas and a source. In Western Europe alone, the International Organisation for Migration estimates that around 500,000 women per year are trafficked from poorer regions in the world.
- A recent U.S. Government estimate indicates that approximately 800,000- 900,000 people annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide and between 18,000 and 20,000 of those victims are trafficked into the United States. This estimate includes men, women, and children trafficked into forced labor and sexual exploitation as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. This estimate does not include internal trafficking. The new figures were generated from a database that examined reports of specific trafficking incidents, counts of repatriated victims, estimates for victims worldwide, and victim demographics derived from analysis of information from press, governments, non-governmental and international organizations, and academic reports from 2000 to the present.
- In Europe, an increasing portion of the trafficked women comes from the former socialist countries. A growing amount of women who want to search for work abroad are deceived by traffickers into leaving their countries, believing that they will work as dancers or hostesses, or even as prostitutes, but instead end up living under slave-like conditions where their fundamental human rights are violated. For criminal groups, trafficking in women is very profitable with revenues more than seven billion dollars annually from trafficking in human beings.
- According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the U.S. State Department, 700,000 to 2 million people, the majority of them women and children, are trafficked each year across international borders. Thirty-five percent are under the age of 18.
- According to the IOM, the majority of these victims come from Asia, with more than 225,000 arriving annually from Southeast Asia and more than 150,000 from South Asia. The former Soviet Union has become the largest new source of forced prostitution with 100,000 trafficked each year from the New Independent States. More than 75,000 are trafficked from Eastern Europe, 100,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and over 50,000 from Africa. Most of the victims are sent to large cities, vacation or tourist areas, or military bases in Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America.

C) The Use of New Technologies in Human Trafficking
The world’s transition into an information society is being marked by profound developments in all aspects of human life: in work, education and leisure, in government, industry and trade. The new information and communication technologies are having a revolutionary and fundamental impact on our economies and societies. The success of the information society is important for developing, competitiveness and employment opportunities, and has far- reaching economic, social and legal implications. Information and communication infrastructures have become critical parts of our economies. Nevertheless, the exploitation of ICTs for criminal activities is a Sid effect. These criminal activities may take a large variety of forms and may cross many borders. Although, for a number of reasons, there are no reliable statistics, there is little doubt that these offences constitute a threat to industry investment and assets, and to safety and confidence in the information society. The universal digital accessibility opens up new opportunities for the unscrupulous. There is scope for action both in terms of preventing criminal activity by enhancing the security of information infrastructures and by ensuring that the law enforcement authorities have the appropriate means to act, whilst fully respecting the fundamental rights of individuals. With respect to this impact of technology, a question that arises is to determine whether the concept of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation necessarily involves physical movement, or also includes attention online exploitation of virtual images of people.

1) ITCs and Sexual Exploitation
In fact, various kinds of technology means can be used for the purpose of sexual exploitation - either by individuals for their own private use or by persons or groups using the Internet as a commercial tool, to promote and sell images or services. Technical aspects are crucial for the development of sites which exploit all the technical possibilities of the Internet. Often, the geographical location of the server exerts a negative impact on jurisdiction and legal issues. The, the main techniques that are used worldwide involve:

a) Mainstream Communications
Like cable TV, which can be used in connection with trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Images made using trafficked women may be transmitted to viewers through these venues. New cable Networks use satellite transmission to deliver hundreds of channels and pay-per-view delivers content on demand. Cable companies consider that the more sexually explicit the content the greater the demand.
According to Paul FISHBEIN, owner of Adult Video News “There are many outlets, that even if you spend just $ 15,000 and two days – and put in some plot and good-looking people and decent sex – you can get satellite and cable sales. There are so many companies, and they rarely go out of business. You have to be really stupid or greedy to fail”.

b) Scanners and Video Digitizers
They are nowadays used to change old pornographic images and videos into electronic format that can be accessed online. Digital cameras and recorders enable the making of images that do not need to be professionally processed, thereby eliminating the risk of detection. These new types of equipment also make it technologically easier for people to become producers of pornography. Digital media formats are no longer static. One format can be quickly converted into another. From one video, 200-300 still images can be captured and then uploaded to a Web site. According to an Adult Video Producer “Anyone, with a video camera can be a director – there are countless bottom feeders selling nasty loops on used tape. Whatever the equality or origin of a product, it can at the very least be exhibited on one of the 70,000 adult pay Web sites, about a quarter of which are owned by a few privately held companies that slice and dice the same...

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