April 10, 2013
Fight Against Human-Trafficking Gets Ambitious Support From Google
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Google has looked to map the world and make it an easier place to navigate but on Tuesday the search engine giant looked to take on the very serious issue of human trafficking.
Just as William Wilberforce helped end the slave trade in the British Empire at the start of the 19th century, Google now looks to be a major force in stopping human trafficking, which serves to enslave millions of people today.
With the help of three leading advocacy organizations Google has helped launch the Human Trafficking Hotline Network. This new data-sharing effort is aimed at fighting this growing problem, and was launched with a grant from the search giant that will allow organizations working in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe to standardize data, identify trends and even combine statistics. The hope is that this could provide a more comprehensive view of this serious issue.
Google is working with the Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada to address the widespread problem of human trafficking. Liberty Asia estimates that there are approximately 21 million slaves in the world today, which is more than at any other time in human history. While annual donations to combat this problem amount to around $350 million, the profits from slavery reportedly exceed $32 billion.
Google has stepped up to help make it easier for those various advocacy organizations to better combine their efforts and utilize the data each has gathered.
Google Ideas director Jared Cohen and Google Giving director Jacquelline Fuller offered this thought on Tuesday in a blog post:
“Human trafficking, the narcotics trade and weapons smuggling all have one major thing in common: Their ill-gotten proceeds feed conflict, instability and repression worldwide. Out of all of these, human trafficking is perhaps the most devastating, enslaving nearly 21 million people and generating at least $32 billion of illicit profits every year. At last summer's Google Ideas summit on mapping, disrupting and exposing illicit networks, it became clear that connecting anti-trafficking helplines in a global data sharing collaboration could help identify illicit patterns and provide victims anywhere in the world with more effective support. Today, Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International are receiving a $3 million Global Impact Award from Google to do just that. Building on our 2011 grants, this brings our total commitment to anti-trafficking efforts to $14.5 million.”
As such, the three groups have jointly been awarded the Google Global Impact Award and will work together to share information and consolidate their respective hotlines.
Cnet noted that there are more than 65 different hotlines around the world, and the new collaboration between the three hotlines and Google marks a significant step in the right direction to end the slave trade. If all of this data could be collected in a single database it could seriously help efforts to combat human trafficking.
“Google´s Global Impact Award is making it possible for us to connect with diverse anti-trafficking organizations around the world so that the fight against human trafficking is a more collective and data-driven effort,” said Bradley Myles, Polaris Project´s CEO in a statement. “Through the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network, we want to make it as easy as possible for the millions of people held in slavery to reach out to a hotline and access help. We are thrilled that Google Ideas´ summit against illicit networks helped catalyze this hotline network, and we look forward to partnering with Liberty Asia, La Strada International, and future members to make this vision a reality.”
The Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network will now build on Polaris Project´s existing global program, which began in 2012. It had received funding from the US Department of State along with support from Palantir Technologies and Saleforce.com.
These efforts have aimed to map and identify existing anti-trafficking hotlines, connect with individual hotlines to foster mutual peer-to-peer learning and to offer training and technical assistance to support the creation and expansion of anti-trafficking hotlines in target nations.