A tool to detect suspicious, human trafficking adverts invented in Tallinn

At a Garage48 hackathon to develop technologies that could potentially help fight against human trafficking, the winner was a tool that scans online adverts to find potentially suspicious job offers that could lead to human trafficking.

During the 48 hours of the Garage48 “Trafficking in Persons” hackathon, around 80 participants from Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the United States, Russia, Armenia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine worked on the premises on the Baltic Film and Media School under the guidance of experienced design, technical and human trafficking expert mentors.

By the end of the hackathon, taking place in cooperation with the US Embassy in Tallinn, six projects were presented, including online communities, where victims can rate their previous employees to other job seekers or victims could share their stories, a game to educate children of the dangers of human trafficking, and a website where you could securely store a copy of your travel documents in case they were taken from you or lost.

The winner was a project called THATO, which helps to detect human trafficking adverts. THATO is a platform with tools to help NGOs find and analyse advertisements that are evidence of trafficking. It first aims to collect information of vulnerable persons whose services are being advertised on social media sites and create a database so NGOs can act on this information.Their second aim is a program that would recognise job adverts from traffickers, aimed at recruiting victims, that have been copy-and-pasted onto social media sites. “We think we need these tools in the race against traffickers and that there is a great potential to develop them further into efficient investigative tools that could make a big difference,” the multinational team behind THATO, comprising Estonians, Armenians and a Moldovian, said.
The teams are hopeful that their products will receive further development support and use. A representative from the Latvian ministry of foreign affairs expressed interest in piloting the Safe Box solution of cloud-based storage of travel documents. The Estonian ministry of social affairs already said it will be using JobTraffick and a representative of the US State Department also confirmed interest for all the products produced at the event.

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