Human trafficking is a substantial issue in Bulgaria because Bulgaria is a country of transit for migrants who are leaving Eastern Europe to seek a better life and better socioeconomic conditions in wealthier countries in Western Europe (Central Intelligence Agency, 2018). Migrants are the most commonly targeted group for human traffickers in Bulgaria (Petrunov, Weitzer, & Zhang, 2014). Promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies is a sustainable development goal established by the United Nations (United Nations, 2018). Addressing human trafficking falls under this goal (United Nations, 2018). Typical solutions to human trafficking include implementing visa restrictions, law enforcement controlling violence, and stronger enforcement of the felony offense of trafficking in human beings (Petrunov, Weitzer, & Zhang, 2014). These are social solutions, but there are also technological solutions available.
As technology has become more common, affordable, and available, human traffickers (who are also known as “exploiters”) are frequently utilizing technology to lure in victims (Thakor, 2014). It makes sense to use technology to counter human trafficking. Countering human trafficking is known as “anti-trafficking.” Some possible technological solutions for anti-trafficking are using data mining and text analysis to catch exploiters, and image analysis and verification to identify individuals who have been trafficked (Thakor, 2014). An additional solution that could focus on stopping exploiters is radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices (Monahan & Fisher, 2010).
Some American hospitals have been using RFID devices for patient identification for nearly a decade (Monahan & Fisher, 2010). These devices are small, about the size of a grain of rice, and have been used for many years to identify animals (think of a microchip in a cat or dog that, when scanned, displays the pet’s information as well as the owner’s contact information) (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). RFID devices are used by some United States correctional facilities as a way to combat sexual assault in prisons (Halberstadt & La Vigne, 2011). Inmates have an RFID device embedded in their wristband or ankle bracelet and can be tracked throughout the prison (Halberstadt & La Vigne, 2011). Using this information, corrections officers can be alerted to possible prohibited activity (Halberstadt & La Vigne, 2011).
Selected Solution Modification
A way to modify current uses of RFID devices would be to apply them to human traffickers. At this time, there has not been much use of RFID devices in the prevention of human trafficking. As in the case of using RFID devices in animals, RFID devices may be implanted directly into the human body (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Wristbands and ankle bracelets are easy to remove, so they would not be the most viable option outside of a correctional setting. Implantable RFID devices are a better choice in the prevention of human trafficking, but they would need to be placed at a location deep in the body to avert easy removal. This would involve having physical contact with a trafficker and would not prevent unknown exploiters from trafficking victims but could help to stop known exploiters from trafficking more victims. Law enforcement would be able to track and stop exploiters who have an implanted RFID device and would help to further the United Nations’s sustainable development goal of promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies (United Nations, 2018).
- Central Intelligence Agency. (2018). The World FactBook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bu.html
- Foster, K., & Jaeger, J. (2008). Ethical implications of implantable radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags in humans. The American Journal of Bioethics: AJOB, 8(8), 44-8.
- Halberstadt, R., & La Vigne, N. (2011). Evaluating the use of radio frequency identification device (RFID) technology to prevent and investigate sexual assaults in a correctional setting. The Prison Journal, 91(2), 227-249.
- Monahan, T., & Fisher, J. (2010). Implanting inequality: Empirical evidence of social and ethical risks of implantable radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, 26(4), 370-376.
- Petrunov, G., Weitzer, R., & Zhang, S. (2014). Human trafficking in Eastern Europe: The case of Bulgaria. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1), 162-182.
- Thakor, M. (2014, November 26). Digital anti-trafficking: Reflections on technological risks and opportunities [web log]. Retrieved from http://un-act.org/forums/topic/digital-anti-trafficking-reflections-on-technological-risks-opportunities/
- United Nations. (2018). Sustainable development goals: Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/peace-justice/V