The genesis of Spotlight started after we conducted a sex trafficking Survivor Survey in 2012, seeking to learn directly from victims how technology was used throughout their trafficking situation. We found that sixty-three percent of underage sex trafficking victims reported they had been bought or sold online. Armed with this data, we worked with our technology partners and law enforcement to understand how these existing digital footprints could assist law enforcement in faster victim identification. Read More
In the fall of 2014, our team went to Phoenix to present to the Arizona Human Trafficking Council. We shared a new tool we had just developed called Spotlight, that leverages machine learning algorithms and insight from officers in the field, and were prepared to train Arizona officers as some of the first users in the country.
This week, I had the opportunity to join the Council once again and provide updates on the incredible progress we’ve seen with Spotlight since our first meeting. Today, Spotlight is used across the state of Arizona and in 47 other states, plus the District of Columbia. It is being used by more than 2,000 officers nationwide and has helped identify over 300 victims of trafficking. Read More
On February 4th, I flew out to the San Francisco Bay Area to support our law enforcement partners in Super Bowl sting operations. In addition to other methods, officers used the anti-human trafficking tool we developed with Digital Reasoning, called Spotlight, to help identify victims and illicit networks. It was tremendously gratifying to come back to the Bay on behalf of Thorn and see our technology in action. Read More
The following post was submitted by Tim Estes, CEO and Founder of Digital Reasoning, one of our technology partners. Digital Reasoning employs a machine-learning platform that automates the understanding of human communications.
In 2000, everyone was starting a business. The dot com bubble still looked like endless progress, there was talk about a whole new economy, and millionaires were funding companies with no products and very little experience. There was a lot of hype.
With this backdrop, I was a 3rd year Philosophy student at the University of Virginia thinking why is the software I use every day not able to learn? It was obvious to me that software would be better if every time I used it—it would learn. Surely, someday all software would learn. And that was software everyone should own. I wanted to build that company. So I did. Read More
Thorn will join our partners in the San Francisco Bay Area to support their efforts against human trafficking leading up to Super Bowl 50 this Sunday.
Major national events like the Super Bowl tend to bring about an influx of human trafficking victims supplied to buyers. In response, Bay Area law enforcement, organizations and service providers have teamed up to tackle the issue leading to the weekend by using an innovative, victim-centered approach. Read More
Earlier this month, local law enforcement and FBI in King County, Washington made significant gains in the fight against sex trafficking with an unprecedented operation that targeted illegal sex buyers.
Along with seizing The Review Board, the highest-used erotic review site in the Seattle Area, local police arrested 12 high-frequency sex buyers on charges related to promoting prostitution — a felony usually reserved for pimps and traffickers — and led to the closure of a dozen brothels. Furthermore, the operation guaranteed freedom for 12 women who had been trafficked from South Korea and forced into prostitution. Read More
Last week, the FBI led its latest nationwide effort to combat child sex trafficking, Operation Cross Country. Carried out in partnership with various state and local law enforcement agencies, Operation Cross Country IX helped identify 149 underaged victims of sex trafficking and 153 traffickers. Furthermore, 52 general buyers were also arrested for allegedly soliciting underage victims. Read More
Thorn CEO Julie Cordua joined Bill DiPietro and Marten den Haring from Digital Reasoning for the presentation of Cloudera’s 2015 Data Impact Awards. We are proud to announce that the Spotlight tool has won the Social Impact award. The awards recognize achievements in Advancing Security, Affecting Social Change, and Driving Business Value with Data. We are honored that Spotlight has been recognized among technology experts, and humbled by the caliber of innovation recognized at the event.
“Social change is … occurring in a collaborative way across local and national, commercial and public sector organizations.” – Alan Saldich, vice president, Marketing, Cloudera Read More
The start of the New Year represents a time of renewed hope. At Thorn, we’re proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in 2014, and are confident that we’ll make even more significant strides in driving technological innovations to combat slavery, human trafficking, and child sexual exploitation in 2015. Read More
All it takes is one quick trip to the water cooler to be reminded of the depressing news going on in the world today. Between multiple international crises and the ongoing domestic civil strife, many individuals may consider the fight against child sexual exploitation to be another doom and gloom topic. Read More