Blog 17 May 2024

Buyers Guide

Complete playbook to understand liveness detection industry

Learn More
Human Face Recognition vs. Human Trafficking Protecting Human Lives Through Real-Time Liveness Detection

Human Face Recognition vs. Human Trafficking Protecting Human Lives Through Real-Time Liveness Detection

Author: teresa_myers | 17 May 2024

A big salute to the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force for making 37 successful arrests in 2 recent operations. It is certainly a ray of hope for the victims and those who condemn this hideous crime. The investigation started when a woman in a Tuscaloosa hotel was believed to be a victim of human trafficking. 

Previously facial recognition was used by law enforcement to identify criminals and victims through a manual approach. Super recognizers which account for only 1 to 2 % of the entire global population are said to recognize faces distinctively but at what cost? Human trafficking and other crimes against humanity are rising every year. To combat them the first step is to accurately identify the victims in a limited time window to save as many lives as we can. For this purpose, advanced facial recognition can act as a frontline fighter against human traffickers.

In this blog, we will attempt to relate the factual knowledge about face identification through AI face detection and how it can expedite the identification of victims of Human Trafficking to play its part in saving humanity from the claws of dirty players and make the world safer for everyone.

A Brief Overview of Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is an illegal and punishable criminal activity that is intended to kidnap innocent people including children, especially girls and women. It is mostly done for sexual exploitation of human beings but in many countries, human beings are smuggled for forced labor and organs stolen as well.

Facts About Human Trafficking

According to Eurostat, there is a 41% increase in human trafficking in 2022. This increased number is primarily due to the successful identification and detection of victims of human trafficking otherwise, previously the numbers were low because human trafficking largely goes undetected and unreported. Furthermore, nearly half of the human trafficking victims are underage girls and women primarily sold for forced sexual acts. Not only this, but human trafficking is linked to other crimes like money laundering, drug smuggling through human beings, human organ stealing, forced prostitution, and slavery. Many victims die in the process of human trafficking due to multiple reasons.

One of the key aspects of controlling human trafficking is the detection of victims which was recently highlighted by Eurostat. This has shown some positive change as victims are now encouraged to come forward and speak for themselves. However, the detection and identification of the victims is of utmost importance and the right tools and techniques are a must for protecting them.

United Nations Highlights Data Gaps on Human Trafficking Victims

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) exposed modern slavery facilitated by human trafficking in its report. They have shown serious concerns about the missing information and trials about victims of human trafficking that led to numerous cases going undetected. 

Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNODC admitted the loophole in information gathering on missing persons and human trafficking victims where he said,

“We have a big picture, but it is impressionistic and lacks depth. We fear the problem is getting worse, but we can not prove it for lack of data, and many governments are obstructing.” He escalated the issue by saying, “If we do not overcome this knowledge crisis we will be fighting the problem blindfolded.” 

How Facial Recognition has Become the Fortress to Protect People from Being Trafficked?

Kevin Metcalf the Founder and President of the National Child Protection Task Force pins the problem of identity verification of victims of HT by saying that in many cases, law enforcement only has a face photo to identify and rescue the victims. He advocates the use of face detection technology to identify kids who are being trafficked.

An interesting yet shocking case of human trafficking was also explained in an editorial where an escort website uploaded the profile of a featured woman who was underage. All the information in the profile was fake yet the photos of the girl were real. The law enforcement used a facial recognition solution in which they uploaded the facial images and used AI face tracking technology for identity matching. Cut short, the victim was identified as a 16-year-old juvenile and was immediately reduced and her trafficker was brought to justice.

How to Spot Human Trafficking?

It is not as simple as raising suspicion and bringing the entire police force to someone’s door barging in and arresting suspects. The most important part of combating human trafficking is to rescue the victims. 

Here is how law enforcement potentially detects the signs of human trafficking activity.

Human Trafficking victims depict certain specific signs such as 1) Unusual Behavior 2) Dire Working Conditions 3) Poor Living Conditions 4) Physical Abuse Signs
Unusual Behavior
  • The traffickers firstly use psychological manipulation, target needs like money to hunt victims, and transport them to the destination location.
  • They then use physical force, and death threats and control them by cutting them from social circles to prevent them from reaching law enforcement or seeking any sort of help. 
  • Potential signs can be emotions on a victim’s face like anxiety, fear, and submissiveness.
Working Conditions
  • Employers in some jurisdictions may also confiscate the identity documents of the workforce and the labor working for longer hours.
  • It is another exploitation tactic used by traffickers to prevent victims from escaping or contacting law enforcement.
  • If the victim’s identity documents are in the custody of the trafficker, the victims may not be identified in the first place.
Living Conditions
  • Many victims are found cramped in small living spaces living poorly with limited food supply. Their health condition also deteriorates with time.
  • Victims are kept dependent through confinement and by limiting their living conditions. 
Physical Signs
  • Signs of human trafficking can be physical abuse like wounds, injuries, burns, and malnourishment are visible in case of human trafficking.
  • Victims are neglected and face torture both physical and mental which is an indication of human trafficking.

Apart from the discussed-above signs, facial recognition technology can identify and detect potential human trafficking activity and victims in the following ways.

1. Identification of Victims

This is usually the first step where human trafficking images are collected and matched with the identities of missing persons who are possibly the victims of human trafficking activity. It uses a facial recognition solution to analyze the facial images for face matching with photos and helps in locating missing persons that are reported by families and friends.

2. Public Places Facial Image Database

A very crucial part of detecting victims of human trafficking is closely monitoring and analyzing the CCTV footage and public places security cameras. The places where the victim was last seen and having security cameras installed are checked and the facial photo identity is matched with that of the missing person lastly recorded in the camera footage.

It uses 1:1 face verification to rightly identify the individual from the provided face image and match it with the CCTV footage of a possible match.

3. Cross-Referencing

It uses 1:N face-matching to accurately identify the individual against a database of missing person identities. It compares faces from social media, trafficking hotlines, and law enforcement databases to rightly match the verified missing person identity database with the provided database.

4. Supporting Rescue Operations

Facial recognition technology can directly contribute to rescue operations by keeping law enforcement updated by providing real-time alerts. It helps track and identify traffickers and victims across different platforms and jurisdictions.

Facial Liveness Detection | Empowering Real-Time Face Recognition 

Liveness Detection is a key player in fortifying live face detection and facilitating the identification of victims as well as human traffickers. Liveness checks can ensure true human face detection and confirm that no imposter is sitting instead of an actual victim and the right person is identified. Moreover, it can help make human trafficking arrests in real-time. One possibility could be using an AI-powered facial recognition solution with liveness detection in the live body cameras used by law enforcement while encountering a rescue operation. Cops can integrate this facial identification solution to quickly detect the victim and execute rescue operations in a limited time window.

In this way, Liveness Detection instead of just verifying identities at banks can also play a vital role in saving human lives. There can be multiple use cases of facial recognition in mitigating human trafficking that may range from identifying the victim to rescue and victim protection operations.

It is important to note that the speed and accuracy of live face detection count greatly when it comes to correctly verifying a victim’s identity. Therefore, the use of an identity solution like Facia which has proven its liveness detection capability in just under one second under different settings; will not only help victims but also prevent human trafficking activities before their occurrence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is real-time liveness detection and how does it improve face recognition?

Real-Time Liveness Detection refers to a method of ensuring that a person attempting to verify identity is present in front of the identity verification device. In facial recognition, liveness detection has played a critical role in improving the identification of genuine users and preventing identity fraud tactics such as deepfake injection attacks or mask attacks.

How does face recognition help in countering human trafficking?

Face recognition systems employ liveness detection as a core feature of their solution. Liveness ensures that there is no presentation attack or a deepfake injection attack taking place. Hence, it strengthens face recognition and increases its reliability.

How do face recognition systems with liveness detection work?

Face recognition systems employ liveness detection as a core feature of their solution. Liveness ensures that there is no presentation attack or a deepfake injection attack taking place. Hence, it strengthens face recognition and increases its reliability.