Human Trafficking and Technology:  A framework for understanding the role of technology in the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S.

Dr. Rane Johnson-Stempson Principal Research Director Microsoft Research

Friday, March 22, 2013 1425 Biomedical and Physical Sciences 11:00am – 12:00pm

Abstract: Networked technologies—including the Internet, mobile phones, and social media—alter how information flows and how people communicate. There is little doubt that technology is increasingly playing a role in the practices and processes surrounding human trafficking: the illegal trade of people for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and other forms of modern-day slavery. Human trafficking has many facets to it and technology’s role varies as a result. Yet, little is known about costs and benefits of technology’s role. We do not know if there are more human trafficking victims as a result of technology, nor do we know if law enforcement can identify perpetrators better as a result of the traces that they leave. One thing that we do know is that technology makes many aspects of human trafficking more visible and more traceable, for better and for worse. Focusing on whether technology is good or bad misses the point; it is here to stay, and it is imperative that we understand the role that it is playing. More importantly, we need to develop innovative ways of using technology to address the horrors of human trafficking.

This talk describes empirical research at Microsoft Research into the role that technology plays in human trafficking. Too many new interventions and policies are being driven by intuition, speculation, and extrapolation from highly publicized incidents. In order to move towards a more coherent and grounded approach to addressing the role of technology, it is important to begin untangling technology’s role in different facets of the human trafficking ecosystem.

Host: Laura Dillon (, Computer Science & Engineering

Biography:  Rane Johnson-Stempson is the Education and Scholarly Communication Principal Research Director, where she engages with academics worldwide and identifies high-impact areas for research investigations. She is currently working on projects that use technology to transform how we learn about history and how we eradicate human trafficking. Rane is also the lead for growing, attracting and retaining women in research, science and engineering. She is actively working with NCWITT, Anita Boorg, CRA-WW, ACM-WW, IEEE-WW and reseearchers on how to grow the pipeline of women in research, science and engineering. She has been selected to lead several Whitehouse ccommittees to support humann trafficking and technology inclusion. Previously, as the WWW Director of Education Strategy she was responsible for multi-stakeholder partnerships, Cisco-Intel-Microsoft Alliance, World Economic Forum- Globbal Education Initiative, FastTrack Initiative--Private Constituency and helping our local teams around the world use the power of technology as an accelerator to transform education to meet local government priorities to drive economic and workforce developmeent in the 21st century.

After 10 years at Microsoft, RRane has held a variety of poositions. She started as an Public Secctor Globaal Account Manager, Server aand Tools Core Infrastructuree Field Liaison, CCEE Regionnal Core Infrastructure Product Manager, and CEE Regional Leader responsible for developing and supporting the mission in heelping all IT Professional and ITT Managers in CEE to reach their full potential.

Rane is veery passioonate abouut education and teechnology with sixteen years of experience. She has served as the Exeecutive Diirector of California Skills USAA-VICA, IT Project Manager for Guidant Corporation, Middle School Math and Science Teacher aand IT Direector for tthe San Frrancisco UUnified Schhool Distriict. She haas sat in the boaards of topp Educatioon non-proofits and oon legislattive commmittees andd task forces. She has currently been selected to serve on four Whitehousse committees from the Office of Science and Technoology Policcy. Rane is a graduuate of Bucknell Universityy with a BS Mechannical Enginneering, BAA Econommics/Finance, and Geeorge Fox Univeersity withh an Execuutive MBA in Transformational Leadersship. She currently serves on the advisory boardd for the University of Washington School, WEPAN, Bucknell Engineering Excellennce Prograam and ACM-W.