In order to effectively solve difficult societal problems, we must first understand them. With the belief that research can open the door to effective interventions in the fight against modern day slavery, in December the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit and Microsoft Research partnered to release a request for proposals from the academic community to better understand the intersection of technology and child sex trafficking. As you may have heard on KUOW this morning, today we are pleased to announce six research teams being awarded $185,000 in funding from Microsoft to advance deeper understanding of the advertising and selling of children and the use of technology by “johns” in the child sex trade, including:
- Dr. Nicole Bryan, Dr. Ross Malago and Dr. Sasha Poucki of Montclair State University and Dr. Rachel Swaner of the Center for Court Innovation in research to understand how “johns” search for victims online
- Dr. Susan McIntyre, advocate, counselor and researcher from Calgary, Alberta and Dr. Dawne Clark and Norm Lewis of Mount Royal University in research focused on demand and how technology has changed the recruiting, buying and selling process in trafficking
- Professor Mary G. Leary of the Catholic University of America in an assessment of judicial opinions and the role of technology in child sex trafficking cases
- Dr. Kimberly Mitchell of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center in research to understand the role of technology in facilitating child sex trafficking and its potential for improving services to victims
- Dr. Jennifer Musto of Wellesley College in research on the role of technology in facilitating child sex trafficking from the perspective of law enforcement
- Dr. Anna Shavers, Dr. Dwayne Ball, Professor Matt Waite, Professor Sriyani Tidball and Dr. David Keck of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in research on the role of the Internet in child sex trafficking and the clandestine language used in Web advertising to facilitate child sex trafficking
We appreciate everyone who submitted a proposal. More information about those who were awarded grants and their research can be found in blog posts today from Microsoft Research’s danah boyd and Rane Johnson. We are energized by the insights we anticipate will emerge from these researchers’ efforts and look forward to applying the knowledge gained to continue our collaboration with public and private sector leaders to make a substantial difference in the fight against trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
For more information about the problem of human trafficking, visit http://www.polarisproject.org/. To stay up-to-date on the latest developments on Microsoft’s fight against child sexual exploitation and cybercrime, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/dcu or follow the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit on Facebook and Twitter.