Actor Ashton Kutcher testified to Congress last week on modern day slavery, specifically human trafficking.  His non-profit organization, Thorn, has been developing unique, innovative technologies to combat one of the worst forms of human trafficking – sexual exploitation of children.

In the case of Thorn, technological advancements, combined with public-private partnerships, are utilized to allow victims to seek help, expose individuals who are connected to human trafficking via online sites and more.  A good overview of Thorn’s technology is covered in a story published by The Next Web (TNW).

Thorn is not the only NGO using technology to combat human trafficking.  A CNN story last year focused on how Polaris is “crunching” huge volumes of data to monitor and report human trafficking cases.

Companies monitor human trafficking in their supply chains to comply with international regulations and protect their brand’s reputation. Read this FAQ on the UK Modern Day Slavery Act to learn best practices for compliance.

Technology is a much-valued tool in the battle against all forms of modern day slavery, especially since a large portion of sex trafficking is done online. The stories, as well as research from the University of Southern California, also point out that technology is not an absolute solution to the problem. The 2015 study by USC’s “Technology and Trafficking Initiative” at the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy reveals that the more isolated individuals are from technology and social networks, the more likely they are to be exploited and victimized.

Technology is also being utilized to fight other forms of modern day slavery, including forced labor.  Through government regulations and heightened company commitments to ensure that their products are responsibly sourced, there has been increasing momentum to uncover human rights abuses in the supply chain and to increase transparency.  This is where technology works at its best, by facilitating fast communication and aggregating thousands of data points to visualize and pinpoint where supply chain risks lie.

With more than an estimated 21 million people worldwide still working in forced labor conditions, monitoring the flow of raw materials throughout the supply chain, including food and semi-finished goods are the key starting points where technology can root out problems.

Through recent software advancements, anything from cotton and palm oil to shrimp and other foods can be traced and verified if there is good data that can be analyzed.  Extensive data collection and analysis throughout the supply chain is rapidly expanding as more companies employ stricter policies and tactics to identify instances of forced labor, human trafficking and human rights abuses.  The process begins when companies adopt assertive corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and, in some cases, conduct on-site inspections and audits where forced labor situations may be suspected.

Companies need documentation that their products comply not only with their CSR policies, but also with a growing number of regulations and international material sourcing guidelines. Evidence in the form of supplier data is also needed to respond to demands by investors and insurers who are evaluating a company’s risk, as well as to avoid boycotts from consumers who seek responsibly and sustainably made goods.

Source Intelligence’s advanced technology monitors global supply chains in real-time and utilizes industry expertise to flag anomalies and warning signs. Through this system, suppliers produce documentation that their shipments are free of association from modern day slavery, environmental damage and corruption. As new products and materials enter the supply stream every day, and billions of dollars of food and food products are shipped around the world on a weekly basis, companies must rely on good communications and strong data from multiple vendors.

However, just as technology can only go so far to combat various forms of modern day slavery, including forced labor and human trafficking, the same is true when it comes to the limits of technology when monitoring supply chains and analyzing data. Source Intelligence maintains a team of multi-lingual specialists who work on a 24/7 basis with suppliers to obtain the proper records for their goods.  In addition, strategic partnership agreements with two of the world’s leading companies for tracing and verifying supplies augments a company’s ability to prove their brand’s reputation – a verification process that can involve teams doing on-site inspections.

For more information about Source Intelligence’s advanced supply chain data collection and verification technologies, click here.

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