Deploying Artificial Intelligence to Detect and Respond to the Use of Digital Technology by Perpetrators of Human Trafficking

Grant Agency: Office of Crime Reduction and Gang Outreach (OCR-GO)

Awarded: 2020-2021

Principal Investigator: Richard Frank

Co-Principal Investigator: Barry Cartwright

Building upon previous research projects on disinformation warfare campaigns conducted by hostile foreign actors, the location of child exploitation networks, markets that facilitate e-laundering, and mapping of the Dark Web, funded variously by agencies such as the Government of Canada’s (IDEaS) Program, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, Public Safety Canada’s Cyber Security Cooperation Program, and Public Works and Government Services Canada, the ICCRC will further refine its custom-designed web crawler and its more recently developed AI (machine-learning) technology in order to scan classified advertisement websites and social media sites that are known to be used for the marketing of victims/services of victims of sexual exploitation/trafficking, again retrieving and analyzing that evidence. The ultimate objective is to create tools required to scan the Internet continuously, along with the ability to identify—and take prompt action against—the misuse of digital technology and Internet-based communication technology to facilitate sexual exploitation/human trafficking. At the same time, members of the qualitative research team will monitor social media sites and online games for evidence of the luring, grooming and recruitment of minors and young adults for the purposes of sexual exploitation/trafficking, and retrieve and manually analyze as much of that evidence as possible. These tools can then be provided to government and/or law enforcement agencies in British Columbia.