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How Facial Recognition is Identifying Human Trafficking Victims

By Freethink Media BLOG

When law enforcement seeks to identify the suspects and victims involved in sexual exploitation cases, sometimes the only lead is an image. Many such cases go unsolved. But over the past decade, facial recognition technology has helped solve more cases by enabling law enforcement to quickly connect names to images extracted from all types of content.

Facial recognition technology has existed in various forms since the 1960s. But only recently has it achieved a level of sophistication where it’s possible to identify a person through a single facial image — even one that’s grainy or taken from an off angle — by comparing it to the billions of facial images that exist online.

This is the capability provided by Clearview AI. Founded in 2017, the facial recognition company offers law enforcement agencies access to a database containing more than 30 billion facial images collected by publicly available means, such as images people upload to open or public Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

It’s been a game-changer for law enforcement officials working human trafficking cases.

Kevin Metcalf, President & Founder of the National Child Protection Task Force
“When you’re dealing with child exploitation, a lot of times the only thing we have is the face of a child,” Kevin Metcalf, President and Founder of the National Child Protection Task, told Freethink. “When Clearview came along, that allowed us to search and identify who they are, where they are. [...] I can attest for hundreds of kids who were identified using facial recognition technology.”