In many ways, I have a cushy life when staying in hotels. I check into a property with my husband, marvel at the glorious comfort of the bed or the great room service food, and my biggest problem is usually lack of sleep due to a noise issue.
Sadly, the scenario for others staying at the hotel may be much, much different.
Human trafficking is a crime that is devastating for victims and tough for law enforcement to pinpoint. When divided into two main types – labor trafficking and sex trafficking, the latter is more likely to be spotted in hotels. The victims are forced or threatened into prostitution, and sex trafficking is not limited to lower-end motels but can be found in classy five star resorts too. We’re talking about 14-16 year old boys and girls that may look like they are just staying at a hotel with their parents
I’ve written before about how to spot sex trafficking in hotels, but there hasn’t been much that travelers can do unless a situation is blatantly obvious.
Now there is. Traffick Cam is an app that was created in 2015 by the Exchange Initiative that is focused on “combating commercial sexual exploitation of children”, and is just starting to spread in awareness.
The app lets you take a couple quick pictures of your hotel room, upload them to a database, and they be used by law enforcement to determine where perpetrators of sex trafficking are committing their crimes.
The EI site says,
Sex traffickers regularly post photos of victims posed in hotel rooms in their online advertisements. Investigators can use these as evidence to find victims and prosecute perpetrators if they can determine where the photos were taken.
Law enforcement can match up the carpeting, the curtains, bedspreads, etc. to the ones in the online photos and better identify the location. Your involvement is minimal but important, just requiring a couple pics of your hotel room.
You can download the app for free, and here are some handy links –
I downloaded the app, and it looks pretty easy to use. It asks for a picture of the bathroom from the doorway, one of the bed from the foot of the bed, and two pictures of the entire room from different vantage points. Of course, they ask that the photos not include any people in them.
The app says that it does not store any data about you, but be aware of a note in the T&C – “By submitting these images, you agree that you are releasing them under a Creative Commons CC0 license. To the extent possible under law, this means you are waiving your copyright and related or neighboring rights.”
While I request visitors to my site ask permission before using any of my photos, I wouldn’t mind law enforcement using my generic iPhone room pics specifically uploaded to this database to help stop sex trafficking or cut down on the time needed to track down a trafficker.
My mind instantly thought of all the hundreds of photos I already have of hotel rooms, but the app says that it requires access to your location when submitting the photos to ensure that they were actually taken at the hotel selected. That makes sense.
I love that this is an active opportunity I can take to get involved and make a difference when traveling, even in a small way.
Will you try Traffick Cam?