AWS Public Sector Blog

Using Technology to Combat Human Trafficking

September 8, 2021: Amazon Elasticsearch Service has been renamed to Amazon OpenSearch Service. See details.

After nearly disappearing in the ‘90s, the spread of child sexual abuse material exploded with the rise of the internet, as child sex trafficking increased with exposure to a greater market online. Today, the problem is complex and still growing.

Thorn, a nonprofit, is working to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.

Thorn is a uniquely equipped nonprofit who joins forces with the sharpest minds from tech, nonprofit, government, and law enforcement to help to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers. One way they fight human trafficking is by driving technology innovation.

By using AWS, Thorn provides law enforcement with intelligence and leads about suspected human trafficking networks and individuals, with the ultimate goal of identifying victims and connecting them with resources.

Spotlight, a product powered by Thorn and Digital Reasoning and run fully on AWS, processes and analyzes the data from 150,000 ads per day based on risk profiles provided by law enforcement. More than 5,300 law enforcement officers use Spotlight in all 50 states and Canada. Over the last two years, they have helped save more than 21,000 victims, 6,000 of which are children. They have also gone mobile. Daily Spotlight users report a 60 percent time savings in human-trafficking investigations. By using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon Redshift, AWS Lambda, Amazon ElastiCache, and Amazon CloudWatch, Thorn can focus on constant improvement and innovation that helps stop trafficking and abuse, instead of worrying about stability or storage space.

“AWS has been critical to our ability to deliver a world-class investigations tool that has helped officers across the country identify thousands of trafficking victims faster than ever before,” said Julie Cordua, CEO, Thorn.

Next up, Thorn is working to build an age progressed facial recognition service on AWS to identify missing children by matching images against child abuse material. By working with a group of technology companies, they can bring in the talent to tailor facial recognition for this specific use case with the hopes of finding children faster and stopping abuse.

Watch Thorn’s video and SlideShare presentation from re:Invent 2016 and don’t miss their presentation at the AWS Public Sector Breakfast at re:Invent 2017.

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