A photo of your hotel room can help fight sex trafficking

sex trafficking app service traffickcam 27109894  interior of classic hotel room
Ariadna de Raadt/123rf
Since 2007, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has received more than 14,500 reports of sex trafficking in the United States alone. In 2014, NCMEC estimated that at least one in six reported endangered runaways is a victim of sex trafficking.

There is no immediate solution to ending this form of modern-day slavery, but a number of initiatives and groups are aiming to make a dent in the statistics with the help of TraffickCam, an online service and accompanying smartphone application designed to catch traffickers who post photographs of their victims online.

Created in 2015 by the Exchange Initiative, TraffickCam helps “combat sex trafficking by [asking people to upload] photos of the hotel rooms you stay in when you travel.” By relying on crowdsourced photographs, authorities can create a comprehensive database and, in turn, work with a much larger collection of information than would otherwise be attainable.

TraffickCam

Using your photos and the thousands of others already in the database, authorities can attempt to match specific rooms with those found in uploaded photographs of potential victims in hopes of narrowing down the identity of the perpetrators.

The process of submitting photographs is quite simple. Open up the TraffickCam smartphone app, snap four photographs of the hotel room you’re staying at, note which hotel and room you’re in, and submit it. You can also use the browser app.

As for what you should photograph inside the room, TraffickCam has given the following suggestions: “We recommend taking two pictures of the entire room from different locations, one picture of the bed from the foot of the bed, and one picture of the bathroom from the doorway. Please make sure there are no people in your photos.”

By submitting the photographs, you are releasing them under a Creative Commons CC0 license, effectively waiving your rights to the image. In doing so, you’re contributing to a growing database that has the potential to bring down the perpetrators of sex-trafficking crimes.

For more information, you can head on over to TraffickCam’s website. Besides contributing your own photographs during your travels, the second-best option to help with this initiative is to share this tool with your friends and family to further add to the growing database of photos and hotel rooms.

Although this is a standalone project for the time being, it would be incredibly interesting to see how image-recognition technologies can help further improve the process. Hotel rooms tend to be identical from one room to the next, but with image-recognition getting better by the day, it’s not hard to imagine small, intricate anomalies being picked up and matched from the crowdsourced photos and online content posted by the perpetrators.

You can download both the iOS app and Android app in their respective app stores.

Product Review

With its epic screen, Apple's iPhone XS Max is a phone you can live inside

The iPhone XS Max is here. Should you get the massive 6.5-inch iPhone from Apple? Or should you pick the smaller iPhone XS? We’ve been putting the Max through its paces to find out in our review.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.
Product Review

There's no such thing as the perfect camera, but Nikon's D750 is damn close

The Nikon D750 DSLR is an excellent example of what full-frame cameras can do. It produces beautiful photos and videos. But does it justify its high price? Yes, it does -- and the camera's age means an even better deal.
Product Review

Canon Pixma Pro-10 review

If you plan to put those digital high-resolution images you’ve shot with a DSLR onto paper, Canon’s Pixma Pro-10 will deliver gallery-quality prints. Just don’t expect it to be speedy.
Photography

To post or not to post? Here's when you should put up a picture on the 'Gram

Let's be honest, the majority of us care about the popularity of our Instagram posts. There is a sweet spot, however, if you're looking to boost the number of likes and comments you receive. Here's what you need to know.
Social Media

Instagram could separate hashtags for less annoying posts

Just what features will Instagram add next? One enthusiast reverse engineered the app to uncover several potential features the app could be testing, including a dedicated spot for hashtags and geofencing.
Photography

Canon crams more resolution and speed in the 65x zoom PowerShot SX70 HS

The new Canon PowerShot SX70 HS keeps the same notable 65x zoom lens, but adds resolution, speed, and 4K video while lightening the camera body. The bridge camera is a much-needed update to the 4-year-old SX60 HS.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses - something no phone…
Social Media

Instagram feature that lets you reshare others’ posts may be on its way

Despite constant calls from many of its billion-plus users, Instagram has always refused to offer an option that lets Instagrammers reshare others' posts that appear on their feed. New reports suggest this could be about to change.
News

Photography News of the Week: Fujifilm creates A.I. for use in designing albums

Spending too much time culling photos and designing albums? Fujifilm is developing artificial intelligence that could help. The A.I., new camera bags, and extreme weather camera protection are in Photography News of the Week.
Photo Galleries

Leica continues instant film trend with the classically styled Sofort camera

While the name may sound funny -- Sofort is German for immediately -- the Leica Sofort immediately pops out film photos. The company's first instant film camera uses classic Leica styling but adds a mirror for selfies.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

Musicbed gives YouTube creators a legal soundtrack option

YouTube flags videos that use copyrighted music in them -- so music licensing platform Musicbed is launching a new subscription plan and a way to tell YouTube's bots to back off with those flags.