The data surrounding human trafficking has been continually difficult to come across. Obviously pimps are not going to willingly give their information out or admit to selling women for a living. Pimps are far from stupid. That is why they are hard to find. If it is so difficult to find pimps, how does law enforcement free trafficking victims? Big Data. This is not necessarily big data on the number of prostitution adds that the find on the internet or the number of calls a big anti-human trafficking organization receives. This is big data as in credit card statements or suspicious increase in income.
According to an article written by US News, big data allows banks to notice suspicious behavior like numerous $100 charges after 11 p.m. at a nail salon. This big data would warrant alert and is shared with law enforcement for further investigation. Along with finding traffickers, the data surround financial income can be used to help put away offenders. In many cases, trafficking victims are unwilling to come forward against their trafficker. Some are scared and others believe their trafficker loves them, but with the help of their trafficker’s financial data, the traffickers can be tied to common financial crimes. An example given in the article was of a father and son duo who ferried women between Manhattan and Pennsylvania. The women in this case spoke positively in court about their offenders who were acquitted of sex trafficking charges, but in the end, thanks to financial data, the pair was charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering. Although the men were not charged as traffickers, they were sent to prison, which was deserved. These men would most likely not be in prison without big data.
As more and more people become concerned with the privacy surrounding big data, I look at the positives that come out of big data and am glad big data exists. In cases like human trafficking, I believe that the use of big data should increase in order to find more trafficking victims. Although some of the data found may be incorrect, in sensitive cases like these, it is better to follow up on a potential human trafficking ring than ignore it. Thanks to big data, law enforcement is able to find traffickers and prosecute them. Big data is necessary for combating human trafficking.