Not Taking a Stand Against Human Trafficking

I was passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta and I heard a new announcement, running, insofar as I recall, thusly:


We are taking a strong stand against human trafficking. If you see anything suspicious, please call 911.

This is the opposite of what I would expect a strong stand to be. First of all, I the uneducated public do not know what suspicious activity indicative of human trafficking actually looks like. As Bruce Schneier points out, asking the public to act on reporting threats is not much more than an invitation to report people who look different and results in a lot of wasted authority time. The NYT has an article on the NY transit systems campaign to get the public to tell the police about suspicious things and all the calls about things which are perfectly fine, but look suspicious to people who have no idea what suspicious actually looks like.

Then there is the airport’s injunction to call 911, an emergency hotline not known to be expert on dealing with human traffficking situations, which, again, as an uneducated member of the public, I expect to be somewhat more tricky to deal with than just dispatching police or firefighters, but I don’t know.

I would expect a strong stance against human trafficking to look more like a trained airport task force (and Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the busiest airports in the world and an international hub, so it is unsurprisingly, a hub for human trafficking and therefore might warrant such a task force) being on hand and have resources to help victims. What little I know about the subject suggests to me that a lot of victims are those who either don’t have a lot of resources, or feel like they don’t, if they aren’t directly sold into the situation by relatives. So they need more help than 911 is likely going to be provide and closer at hand than 911.

Overall, I think the airport is doing absolutely nothing about this while attempting to sound like they are. I know for sure that crowdsourcing security is more likely to result in racial profiling than good security. Do better, Atlanta.


featured image credit via flickr

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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