Eric Schles on Fighting Human Trafficking with Python
June 25th, 2015
1 hr 13 mins 9 secs
About this Episode
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- Date of recording – June 10th, 2015
- Hosts Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
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- Overview – Interview with Eric Schles
Interview with Eric Schles
- How did you get introduced to Python?
- What inspired you to take up the fight against slavery? Is there personal story behind this choice?
- Some of your work touches on the “Deep Web”. Can you provide listeners with some context around what that term means and role it plays in what you do?
- Tor .onion sites (Hidden Services) are examples
- Anonymous Web Experience
- Anonymity allows for illegal, immoral things like buying selling people
- Conceptually very important idea
- Bruce Schneier – Web technologies need to be more privacy aware
- Like a really scary version of “The Internet of the Old Days”
- Photos of young, exploited men and women
- Pedophiles are building communities, having parties through these hidden services
- Eric feels that Tor is an extreme
- Feels there had to be a way to protect the rights of legitimate while protecting against pedophiles
- Maybe a voting system?
- The Tor project feels that any compromise lessens the that’s so important for people in embattled or countries (Worded that poorly -Chris)
- No metrics on the amount of pedophilia that actually happens Tor – probably a lot
- Sexually abused victims of trafficking grow up damanged unable to do anything else
- Consumers of this type of porn were often themselves victims sexual abuse
- Structural dissonance which exists to create this problem society needs to be addressed
- Google puts the number to the anti-trafficking hotline at top of any trafficking search results
- Darren (Derek?) Hayes – redirect to trafficking resources when viewing advertisements for victims trafficking
- Why did you choose Python as opposed to any other tool for your search engine?
- Needed solutions quickly with the ability to evolve as needed
- Able to rapidly develop and incorporate new features rapidly
- Easy to scale as needed
- Flask is easier to prototype and iterate with
- Python data science tools make the analysis easy
- Able to finish a 2 year C++ project in 3 weeks using Python
- Doing data science in Ruby is challenging
- Pandas Dataframe galvanized the creation of a lot of other useful tools
- Vincent – write Python which compiles to D3
- Can you provide a high level description of the technical details the search engine that you created, and what it’s like to with Tor through Python?
- Directed search engine
- “It would be like if you went to Google but everything watched was Porn which you were uncomfortabl seeing and you sad”
- Get most case information through regular old detective work
- Person arrested / in holding yields phone number, other attributes that can feed the search engine
- Google can’t scrape the deep web
- Memex tool indexes the deep web – Eric’s search engine uses that
- Eric does design work for the Memex project
- Developed by the amazing Chris White
- Eric’s search engine uses the Tor driver in Selenium to .onion sites
- What are some of the technical and legal challenges that you experienced in the course of your work?
- Most of the technical challenges are around automated processing
- Legal structure provides some limits on what can be worked on
- Does your search engine try to infer who might be engaged in work voluntarily as opposed to those being forced into it their will?
- No, because they get all their case referrals from detective work
- You have to have been hospitalized or in some other way come the attention of the authorities for being deprived of rights
- Trafficking looks very different in different cultures
- Global similarities
- Afraid to say why if hurt
- Forced into having sex against your will
- Clear patterns of indication
- Urban versus Suburban versus Rural
- Fracking towns
- Demographics are very different – mostly men very women, LOTS of ads for sex workers
- Only helping people that want to be helped
- What was the most surprising fact you uncovered as part of research?
- Imagery of exploited children is so depressing and sad
- Without revealing anything you shouldn’t, are you aware of being set free as a result of your work?
- “Not my work, our work”
- Not an individual effort
- lawyers, analysts, larger DAs office
- Given the complicated socio-economic aspects of human and prosecution of those who are responsible, can you discuss of the moral and ethical considerations that you have confronted with while building these tools?
- Privacy is the biggest concern
- Open source book to teach colleagues at the DA’s office how program to in Python
- Sometimes Eric works at Civic Hall
- Are there any projects out there that you consider similar to you are working on?
- Thorn’s Spotlight tool
- Memex Project
- Polaris Project
- Datakind Anti Trafficking
- dosomething.org – more broadly focused – help center for teens
- RescueForensics – stage startup
- What would it take for other municipalities and law agencies to get started with using your tools?
- Go to https://github.com/EricSchles?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss
- Alert System and investa_gator
- Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org to collaborate
- How can our listeners get involved and help you with this Chris
- Tweet at @EricSchles or E-mail Eric
- Volunteer for any of the non profit anti-trafficking groups
- Message to the community: There is a world of good waiting to happen
Keep in Touch
- Twitter: @EricSchles
- Eric’s About.me page
More From Eric
The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA