Corporate Devices in Low-Access WFH Families + Human Trafficking Threats

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Law Enforcement Experiences Can Serve Your Corporate Community

I-OnAsia has twenty years’ experience in human trafficking investigations and crisis management, including deep dives into social media risks.

Some of this work has historically been fraud investigations, providing support to companies and law enforcement with investigations into foreign national trafficking gangs running ‘vacation packages’ to set up bank accounts used in various scams. But other work of I-OnAsia’s has involved heavier topics, including child sex trafficking.

Unfortunately, there are disturbing trends that human trafficking risks are increasing, even for companies far removed from agri-business or manufacturing and other industries typically perceived as at high-risk.

1. Covid-19 has accelerated the trend towards working from home (WFH). According to a 2020 Stanford study, over 42% of the U.S. labor force is now WFH full-time. China’s remote working market is expected to have grown by over 100% this year, according to Soft6. Worldwide, this shift is paid for by companies. Walls around the workplace are falling, and corporate devices are increasingly in workers’ homes.

2. Unfortunately, not every family in the world has a computer or access to the internet. Even in an advanced country like the United States, nearly 20% of students do not have a home computer, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In India, home to the world’s most advanced business process outsourcing industry, only 8% of homes with young members have a computer with a net link, according to the Indian government. Simply put, it is more than possible that a WFH computer is a family’s only computer.

3. Human trafficking is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, according to statistics gathered by the State of California. Gangs at the center of this activity are using new approaches to technology, including: using social media and video, dating sites and other technologies to recruit new victims and to deceive them. Homes are becoming less safe as a result, and there is a logical possibility that WFH devices are being used by family members to communicate with the perpetrators of child sex trafficking.

In the United States, new laws have been written, and new government anti-trafficking programs have been funded, in recognition of the threat. But the reasons why corporations should act now isn’t because of a compliance need, or out of fear of some social media crisis, although these are important considerations. (Indeed, there are major links between human trafficking and money laundering that are important for financial institutions, according to Citibank’s London Branch.) Instead, the reason to act is because the reality of the challenge is simply nauseating. Deep trauma from human trafficking can affect co-workers, their families, and local communities for a lifetime.

Corporate intelligence and risk prevention programs will certainly be challenged to address the threats to worker families. The topics are not easy, but there are lots of lessons that may be learned from the public sector. The mission of the United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, which closely aligns with many executive protection programs, has been broadened to address human trafficking threats. Department of Justice funded training programs, and new books, provide examples of education and prevention initiatives already in use and easily adaptable to corporate settings.

Labor trafficking takes a heavy toll on Asian victims, with gangs grooming new recruits with the promise of a better work or a better education. At I-OnAsia, our focus is on bringing our real-world experiences to corporate anti-trafficking programs and working with business leaders in a risk advisory and risk management capacity to develop new solutions.

* Education. I-OnAsia provides briefings on the types of human trafficking affecting Asian communities, and deep-dive descriptions of the processes for recruitment, harboring, and transferring Asian victims. Likewise, we provide risk advisory education on the ways and means used by Asian traffickers. I-OnAsia also provides consulting designed to connect corporate security departments with law enforcement departments and anti-trafficking NGO resources.

* Corporate Investigations. I-OnAsia supports corporate investigations into human trafficking. On-site and embedded web-monitoring in Asian languages and undercover chat room participation, physical surveillance, source recruitment and contact, and computer forensics are all in I-OnAsia's corporate investigations toolkit.

* Law Enforcement Liaison. I-OnAsia can help families and corporate security departments connect quickly with foreign law enforcement. When time is of the essence and language barriers abound, I-OnAsia can step in to solve problems.

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