In recent developments, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled its progress in developing a new program called Memex. Memex was developed by DARPA over the past several years and is designed to search the Deep Web in a bid to discover human trafficking. This is a huge boost to DARPA’s services. The Memex program has proved to be a useful tool in fighting human trafficking on Deep Web. Amongst legal sites, the Deep Web contains illicit sites that serve as platforms that offer forums to criminals involved in human trafficking and other kinds of illicit trade, including drug trafficking, child exploitation, and weapons trade. This development made by DARPA is bound to add value to investigations and prosecutions relating to human trafficking charges.
The Memex program designed by DARPA is built into scan sites on Deep Web, which are typically encrypted and hidden in the network; these sites do not appear on traditional internet search engines such as Bing or Google, and are thus hidden from the typical internet user – this is to enable users and criminals alike to conduct their activities in exclusive privacy. Memex is equipped with trained professionals and a team of experts who use advanced technology in collaboration with private sector companies, most notably Information of Science and Technology Research (IST Research). IST Research supplies Memex with data and possible leads in tracing the human traffickers.
The collaboration between IST Research and DARPA’s Memex has been successful, as the two are able to scan entire networks on Deep Web for any suspicious encryptions, activities, and abnormalities that would be seen by individuals promoting child exploitation and human trafficking, who mostly communicate through encoded messages.
Memex is able to decode these messages, providing digital forensic evidence that strengthens law enforcement investigations. According to the Broad Agency Announcement for Memex, human trafficking is on the rise and the crime has become a matter of national security. The Deep Web network continues to provide a conducive environment for the illegal trade of human trafficking to thrive. Human trafficking is a very lucrative venture that attracts clients to the Deep Web and was the driving reason that DARPA introduced the Memex program for national use.
In an interview, the founder of IST Research, Ryan Paterson, acknowledged having worked closely with DARPA since the beginning of 2012. Paterson expressed his confidence in the fact that the Memex program will be able to track down human traffickers and he noted that the IST Research will be more than willing to infuse their internet expertise into the Memex program to achieve this. The Memex program has been effective in revealing relations between online Deep Web listings and phone records among other information and data found on illicit sites of the Deep Web network, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.IST Research and their subsidiary Rescue Forensics are working with law enforcement and several hundred agencies across the world.DARPA Spokesperson Rick Weiss, during an interview about their Memex program, commented that Memex will work closely with the IST Research and Rescue Forensics in scanning networks that offer human trafficking advertisement and services. Sites on the Deep Web have listings that also include other forms of illicit trade.
Weiss revealed that Memex also scans some of the online platforms that human traffickers use on the clearnet that have regular job advertisement posts, such as Craigslist. In a nutshell, DARPA’s boost of its Deep Web search engine, the Memex, program is a revolution that has the potential of bringing a stop to the illicit human trafficking being aided by technology.
Memex, comprised of the intelligence offered by the Rescue Forensics and the technological capabilities of IST Research, should be able to search the Deep Web and expose the ongoing business of human trafficking.