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DARPA Develops Search Technologies to Locate Online Perpetrators of Human Trafficking Crimes

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency continues ongoing work on the development of next-generation search technologies designed to locate online perpetrators of slavery and human trafficking crimes, DoD News reported Wednesday.

Cheryl Pellerin writes Wade Shen, program manager in DARPA’s information innovation office, told DoD News in an interview that the Memex program, which has cost more than $67 million, was established in a push to aid law enforcement officers on investigations that look to hunt down human traffickers.

“Our goal is to understand the footprint of human trafficking in online spaces, whether that be the dark web or the open web,” said Shen.

“What we’re looking for … is online behavioral signals in the ads that occur in these spaces that help us detect whether or not a person is being trafficked.”

Shen noted that more than 33 agencies and a number of local law enforcement groups have used the Memex tools including investigators for the district attorney of New York which used the system to locate and prosecute perpetrators.

The DARPA program manager’s team looks to extend text-based exploitation programs for big data, used to analyze trends and associations related to human behavior and interactions, and create tools that can understand images and networks of people to pinpoint traffickers and behaviors associated with trafficking.

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