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How does digital forensic software help modern slavery investigations?

Posted by ADF Solutions on January 3, 2024
ADF Solutions

Around the world, adults, teens, and children are being bought and sold like modern slaves. Modern slavery involves the exploitation of an individual for another person’s personal or commercial gain[1]. Traffickers will trick, coerce, or force their victims into slavery. Although there are different forms of modern slavery, all victims share the experience of losing their freedom. 

According to the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, about 50 million people were living in modern slavery in 2021[2]. People commonly know modern-day slavery today as humanImage of a farm field with men working in the field a title at the bottom says How does digital forensic software aid in modern slavery investigations? trafficking, which takes on a variety of forms. 

  • Sex Trafficking: Individuals are compelled by force, fraud, or coercion into engaging in commercial sexual acts[3]. Sex trafficking can take place in private homes, massage parlors, hotels, the internet, and other locations[4].

  • Labor Trafficking: Individuals compelled by force, threats, or fraud to perform labor or service. It can occur in agricultural fields, factories, restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, retail stores, fishing vessels, mines, private homes, or drug trafficking operations[4].  

  • Domestic Servitude: Individuals within a household may work as housekeepers or other domestic workers but are controlled and exploited[3]. Domestic workers frequently face isolation and are often required to work alone in a house. Their employer will control access to housing, food, and transportation.

Real-Life Examples: The Hidden Face of Human Exploitation

Modern slavery occurs in every country, regardless of wealth. Studies show more than half of all forced labor in upper-middle-income or high-income countries[2].

Modern slavery and human exploitation hide right before our eyes, often in places we would never imagine. An example of this occurred in South Florida. The Baldonado couple lured Filipinos to South Florida, where they promised them work and good pay. Instead, the Baldonados kept the migrants in a three-bedroom home and a second property they owned, creating the illusion they were providing room and board.

It wasn’t until neighbors reported to the authorities that they discovered nearly 40 Filipino workers were living in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. The Baldonados fed them rotten vegetables, chicken feet, and guts. They earned very little money and accumulated a growing debt, which they could never pay off, similar to indentured servants[5].

Modern Slavery Detection: The Role of Digital Forensic Software

Human trafficking victims are often isolated and guarded by their captors, making it difficult for them to find help. Digital forensic software plays a major role in helping investigators conduct human trafficking investigations

Captors employ various tactics to control and manipulate their victims, cutting them off from the outside world. Traditional investigative methodsCryptocurrency face obstacles. Digital footprints can be a source of valuable evidence when collected effectively.

Investigators can conduct evidence collection with digital forensic tools and obtain… 

  • Messages- Communication records, text messages, and email exchanges provide a window into the interactions between traffickers and victims.

  • Hidden online transactions- Traffickers often rely on covert financial transactions such as cryptocurrency to fund their operations.

  • Photos/Videos- Images and videos can serve as evidence of the conditions in which captors held victims, the methods used for control, and the overall environment of exploitation.

  • Location data- Investigators can use location data to map the movement of traffickers and victims, which aids in understanding trafficking routes and networks. 

  • Online forum communications- Many trafficking operations leverage online forums for recruitment and coordination. Digital forensic software allows investigators to monitor and analyze these communications, identifying key players and disrupting their activities.

DEI PRO: The Future of Digital Forensics in Combating Modern Slavery

Digital evidence analysis plays a vital role in converting digital footprints into actionable intelligence to be used in court and ensure justice for victims. Criminal investigations involving human exploitation require robust digital forensic software that can unveil these heinous crimes and save victim's lives. 

ADF’s Digital Evidence Investigator PRO software quickly processes and analyzes smartphones (iOS and Android), computers, external drives, drive images, and other media storage (USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.). In today’s era of technology, DEI PRO provides the tools investigators need for modern slavery detection by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. Digital Evidence

  • Mobile Forensics- DEI PRO can conduct evidence collection from iOS and Android devices. Investigators can recover call records, messages, saved contacts, calendar data, pictures, videos, audio files, documents, WiFi connections, usernames, installed applications, and more. 

DEI PRO software can conduct screenshots and screen recordings of iOS and Android devices. This feature allows investigators to obtain relevant data rapidly before completing an advanced logical acquisition. In cases of human trafficking, time is essential to saving victims from their captors. 

  • Anti-Human Trafficking Search Profiles- The Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII) is an ADF partner at the forefront of combating global human trafficking. We can equip DEI PRO software with access to the ATII human trafficking data to use with ADF digital forensic search profiles. These custom search profiles for human trafficking assist investigators in collecting relevant and actionable digital evidence related to their cases. 

  • Digital Evidence Analysis and Reporting- DEI PRO allows investigators to view results and filter search results while the scan of a mobile device or computer is running. Investigators can view pictures and videos organized by visual classes, such as people, faces, currency, weapons, vehicles, and indecent pictures of children. Using DEI PRO, investigators leverage facial analysis and age detection to sort and identify images of infants, toddlers, children, and adults.

After completing an advanced logical acquisition, DEI PRO lets investigators create a standalone portable viewer for further analysis and reporting for prosecutors and other investigators. They can precisely select which human trafficking files and artifacts to export, customize their report, and include original files or previews only. When working with digital evidence of modern slavery, investigators can be confident their reports will contain all actionable intelligence while being sensitive to viewers and victims.

On a global level, modern-day slavery continues to persist and requires urgent action. From public places to homes and even the vast reaches of the internet, modern slavery conceals itself, withholding victims from freedom. Fishing Vessels Image

Whether through sex trafficking, labor exploitation, or domestic servitude, victims of modern slavery share a common experience of losing their freedom. The staggering statistics from the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery only emphasize the pressing need for comprehensive solutions to combat this widespread issue.

DEI PRO tackles the unique challenges that arise in human trafficking investigations, where captors often isolate and guard the victims. By delving into digital footprints, investigators gain access to valuable evidence traditional methods might overlook. DEI PRO is a comprehensive toolkit that enables investigators to collect communication records, hidden online transactions, photos, videos, online forum communications, and more. By utilizing DEI PRO, you can unravel the intricate web of human trafficking operations.

Learn More About how ADF Assists with Human Trafficking

Topics: Digital Evidence Investigator, Human Trafficking, DEI PRO, Modern Slavery, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

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