Microsoft relies on data analytics to fight human trafficking

Together with the International Organization for Migration, Microsoft works to combat human trafficking. Using data analysis software, a data set containing information on thousands of criminals and victims was generated. The identity of the victims remains protected.

Microsoft has declared war on human trafficking. In collaboration with the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), the tech giant has released a synthetic data set that aims to make this battle a little easier. The dataset, created with Microsoft’s data analysis software, promises to be used to identify patterns in human trafficking cases, Microsoft writes on its research blog. The data collection includes data from approximately 17,000 victim files worldwide, as well as information from 37,000 mastermind accounts.

“This new data set represents the first global, publicly available collection of case data that links profiles of trafficking victims and perpetrators, while enabling strong confidentiality safeguards. It provides essential information to better assist survivors and prosecute offenders,” says Claire Galez-Davis, Data Specialist in IOM’s Protection Division.

Protection of data subjects

The new data set is also the first of its kind to be generated with differentiated data protection, writes Microsoft. Understand that the dataset contains detailed data on past cases of human trafficking, but does not allow the identity of victims to be deduced. Microsoft and IOM want to protect the privacy of those affected and avoid stigmatization or other forms of harm or trauma. “Data protection is key to pursuing effective and targeted anti-trafficking policies and good migration management,” notes Irina Todorova, Head of Vulnerable Migrants Assistance. IOM Protection Division.

Microsoft, which has collaborated with IOM since 2019, specifies that the data analysis solution developed in this context (the Synthetic Data Showcase software) is published in open source and thus made available to other NGOs or governmental organizations fighting human trafficking.

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