Report: UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022

New UNODC has been published, with a section on the misuse of technology facilitating online human trafficking.

A new publication from the UODN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the first time in 20 years that the office has collected data on human-trafficking. The main findings are that national institutions have failed to detect and protect victims of human-trafficking, and convictions for the crime fell 27% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report is also critical of the role of technology and cyberspace in facilitating exploitation, including forced labour, sexual exploitation, and organ removal.

Technology and Trafficking

In a contribution by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), authors drew attention to several worrying statistics that highlight the role of the internet in human-trafficking.

  • In the U.S., the primary business model in 84.3 per cent of active trafficking for sexual exploitation cases was, “Internet-based commercial sex” (2017).
  • In Austria, in the same year, the Internet was used as the most common criminal infrastructure by perpetrators in 74 per cent of human trafficking cases (2017).

The misuse of technology was found to increase rates of sexual exploitation online, including the production of sexually exploitative material, live streaming, and Child Sexual Abuse Material. The frequency of this type of crime increased significantly during the pandemic as lockdown measures increased the economic vulnerability of women and children.

Technology played an important role in increasing criminal proceeds during the period analysed, hinting at developments in online monetary exchange and banking. Advancements in encryption, online anonymity and virtual assets were noted as creating more challenges for anti-trafficking and cybercrime authorities and stakeholders.

Tech’s Role in Counter-Trafficking

The report also recognised the counter-trafficking potential of technology and digital tools, including in the production and preservation of evidence, criminal detection, and empowering prosecutors. There were over 300 digital tools the OSCE and Tech Against Trafficking (TAT) group noted for the report, split into:

  • victim tracker/identification,
  • awareness raising/education,
  • supply chain management,
  • data trends and mapping,
  • corporate risk identification,
  • worker engagement and empowerment, and
  • victim case management and support.

For a detailed analysis of the role of tech and innovation in counter trafficking please see the OSCE’s 2020 Report entitled “Leveraging innovation to fight trafficking in human beings: A comprehensive analysis of technology tools”.

The UNODC calls on the private sector to play a role in the fight against trafficking, particularly when exploitation occurs in either business supply chains, operations or in their downstream value chain. Of the organisations developing counter-trafficking tools, the private sector was the most active group, responsible for 40% of identified tools, with NGOs responsible for 33% of tools.

Online Platforms and Self-Regulation

The UNODC called for improvements in policies and laws to mitigate the use of online platforms for trafficking, particularly relating to platform liability for trafficking. They argue that the global regime of self-regulation aimed at promoting innovation in the tech sector has failed to address the rise of technology-facilitated trafficking.

A lack of industry standards on the issue, particularly in high-risk sectors such as pornography, sexual services, and short-term job seeking, is highlighted as contributing towards increased rates of exploitation.


techUK recognises many of the issues highlighted in this report and is working with its membership to address them. Our members are already working alongside the Government and key stakeholders in the UK to tackle the issues of sexual exploitation CSAM content and child prostitution/ pornography through the progression of the Online Safety Bill.

For more information on this work, please get in touch with [email protected] or [email protected] on Responsible Business Conduct, or [email protected] on Digital Regulation and the OSB.

Adam Young

Adam Young

Programme Manager, Environment, techUK

Adam joined techUK in September 2021 working in the Climate, Environment & Sustainability Team. 

Adam has a Masters in Climate Change: Science, Environment and Policy from King's College London, as well as a Batchelor's degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Kent. 

The Environment Programme encompasses many different areas of the tech market and policy sphere. Climate change is the highest policy priority for the programme, with ethical resourcing, supply chain due diligence, build environment digitalisation and economic circularity becoming increasingly prominent in the programmes activities.

Before working at techUK Adam worked in the NHS. His interest in nature and conservation led him to going on several conservation projects abroad including Peru and Fiji, working with caiman and tropical fish. When Adam is not saving the planet, he is either playing music, at the gym or playing cricket in the summer.

[email protected]

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Javahir Askari

Javahir Askari

Policy Manager, Digital Regulation, techUK

Javahir joined techUK in June 2022, as Policy Manager for Digital Regulation.

Prior to joining techUK, she worked at the New Statesman, delivering cross sector policy research and events for their policy supplement. Javahir previously worked as part of the educational programme at the European Commission based in London, engaging with the UK's youth on the Brexit process. 

Javahir holds a BA Politics and International Relations (Hons) from the University of Nottingham, an MA Human Rights from University College London, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Law from BPP University. 

[email protected]

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Craig Melson

Craig Melson

Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK

Craig is Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability and leads on our work in these areas ranging from climate change, ESG disclosures and due diligence, through to circular economy, business and human rights, conflict minerals and post-Brexit regulation.

Prior to joining techUK he worked in public affairs and policy has an avid interest in new and emerging technologies. Craig has a degree in Ancient History from King’s College London and spends his time watching Watford FC and holding out hope for Half Life 3.

[email protected]
020 7331 2172

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