Although humanitarian crisis cannot be completely wiped altogether at once, what if emerging technologies such as blockchain technology could help prevent social issues such as human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a major threat to humanity affecting the lives of many all across the globe.
It is estimated that approx. 20-40 million people are imprisoned across the globe, whereby criminals earn profits of approximately $150 billion/year.
To keep a close check over human trafficking newer technologies like blockchain technology could really be a powerful tool to address the problem.
Let us dive deeper to look behind the phenomenon on how these two can work together!
What is Human Trafficking?
Before we understand how blockchain could help solve the problem, it’s essential to understand what is human trafficking and how criminals operate.
Human trafficking refers trading of humans for forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation, or sexual slavery.
Victims are also prone to other inhumane activities such as organ harvesting, forced domestic labour or marriage, etc.
It is the third largest crime-based activity only behind drugs and arms smuggling.
The International human rights organization have estimated that around 2.4 million people, especially women with one third being children are victims of human trafficking.
Human traffickers’ hunts on primarily the poor.
However, runaways, homeless youths, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, conflict, or social discrimination are also equally susceptible to such crimes.
These people falls trap to escape poverty, in order to support their families.
Traffickers often promises them of well-paid jobs usually in places far away from their home.
The victims usually borrow money from their traffickers in advance for travel expenses, arrangements as well as their accommodations, etc.
When they arrive, they find that the work they applied for do not not exist or the conditions are totally different.
Their documents (if they exist) are taken away, and are forced to work until their debt is paid off.
The victims are completely stripped of from their identities with no one to turn to for help or rescue.
Fighting Invisibility Through Digital Identity
Human trafficking is a global and humanitarian crisis. Through the input of biometric information, blockchain technology can help create virtual identity of a person.
This information could then be saved on top of the blockchain while making it impossible for anyone to manipulate or forge the data.
Usually, the potential victims have few resources and lack of any form of identification. One has to identify how blockchain could help in such conditions.
Imagine someone’s virtual identity is created on a private blockchain through unique biometric information such as a fingerprint, or an eye scan.
Once saved on a blockchain, the information is immutable and consequently cannot be forged. In the scenario of blockchain, traffickers won’t be able to tamper or change a victim’s identity.
Changing the victim’s identity or completely wiping the identity is what the traffickers usually do
Blockchain technology is also decentralized. This means that embedded data is far more secure than it would be on a centralized server.
Blockchain being a borderless technology, ID documentation and tracking can take place anywhere in the world.
Blockchain To Combat Traffickers
ConSensys has worked towards an Ethereum-based system to create a digital identity to help in the end of child Trafficking in the Republic of Moldova. The identification system works where citizens cannot be hacked or forged and is based on biometric data, likely retina scans.
Microsoft partnered with ConsenSys and Blockstack Labs to build a blockchain-based identity system to help provide legal identification for people around the world in an aim to fight against the exploitation of children and human trafficking.
Unisys is a global information technology company that builds high-performance, security-centric solutions is an ideal partner for delivering a global blockchain ID platform. Blockchain working with Stealth (identity) can store biometric identities such as fingerprints, iris scans, facial recognition that cannot be forged or altered.
Diginex is a Hong-Kong based blockchain company, and the Mekong Club, an anti-slavery NGO, teamed up to create a blockchain project to prevent exploitation of migrant workers in Thailand. It also helps corporations to comply with the increasingly stringent global anti-slavery regulations.
Human trafficking is a serious issue and the quest for a solution must be done responsibly.
The severity of human trafficking challenge needs for all kind of explorations and blockchain technology could indeed be part of the solution. However, it is also important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily hold all the answers.
Blockchain technology is still in its initial stage, but its application in tackling human trafficking can be both feasible and sustainable.
Cover Image: Pixabay
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