The Human Trafficking Open Source Project

HTDS Phone

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The Human Trafficking Detection System (HTDS) is designed to provide the community working on human trafficking with an open source tool that would help in the detection and investigation processes. The main audience of the tool is members of NGOs and private investigators, although it could be used by law enforcement officials too.

The main purpose of the tool is to search for potential human trafficking activities by analyzing some known patterns of the operation of traffickers. Specifically, the tool analyzes phone number lists for repetitive patterns which might indicate potential human trafficking activities.

Traffickers normally operate a large number of exploited victims at the same time, while taking control of all communication with clients. For example, it has been observed that various advertisement for commercial sex provide (fake) names of girls along with phone numbers. Since pimps take control of communication with clients, often times the advertisements of different girls in various geographical locations have the same phone number listed: the phone number of the pimp. The HTDS takes advantage of this observation to analyze phone number lists and report the likelihood of suspicious activity.

The main functionality of HTDS is data analysis. Data collection is assumed to be done offline using other applications, not necessarily interfaced with HTDS. Besides data analysis, HTDS maintains a database of alerts which could be used by investigators to perform time analysis, which is crucial to most investigations. Therefore, the alerts generated by HTDS are meant to be used as an element in the larger investigation process.