This week, pledging its commitment to help end human trafficking, Uber has partnered with leading organizations to provide education and awareness to all driver-partners across the United States, including launching a new effort to promote the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is operated by our newest partner Polaris.
Globally, an estimated 25 million people are victims of human trafficking, being forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will. Human trafficking often affects the most vulnerable in our communities, whether adults, teens or children. Traffickers use multiple forms of transportation to move their victims across the country. Sometimes across state or local jurisdictions to avoid police detection, and sometimes just across town.
Experts tell us the technology of the internet has made it easier for children to be bought and sold online — at Uber we believe we can use our technology to join law enforcement, elected officials and non-profit leaders in the anti-trafficking movement and help disrupt human trafficking.
That’s why, since 2015, Uber has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), ECPAT-USA, and The McCain Institute to develop resources for all U.S. drivers to help identify and report human trafficking. Uber is the first and only company in the on-demand space to sign the The Code to protect children from trafficking. We also partner with Thorn to support their innovation work and provide engineering expertise to help build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.
“I first met with UBER’s team over 4 years ago to encourage them to become involved in the fight against human trafficking before the Arizona Super Bowl. I am so pleased that today, Uber is informing all drivers in the U.S. on the warning signs of trafficking and we are seeing a tangible effect of these efforts in victims being rescued and traffickers arrested,” said Cindy McCain of The McCain Institute Human Trafficking Advisory Council. “I applaud their dedication to this issue and the McCain Institute is pleased to partner with UBER to continue to educate drivers nationally and internationally to spot the signs of human trafficking and know what steps to take if they suspect it.”
By working with Polaris, Uber will proactively provide a way for driver-partners to be aware of and feel comfortable reaching out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Uber and Polaris will also work together on innovation strategies for big data disruption to help end this terrible crime. Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally in the U.S. reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
“Both research and experience operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline has shown us that ride sharing services like Uber have a significant role to play in disrupting human trafficking and helping survivors to find freedom,” said Bradley Miles, CEO of Polaris. “Ensuring that Uber driver partners who recognize the signs of human trafficking know that the Hotline is available and can help is an important step toward turning awareness into action and making a real difference in people’s lives.”
Drivers are uniquely positioned to help identify and ultimately prevent human trafficking. There are everyday heroes living and driving in our communities. In December 2016, a Sacramento area driver helped a girl, aged 16, escape from a human trafficking operation. He noticed suspicious behavior during a trip and reported it to police. He was recognized as a hero and honored by NCMEC with the Hope Award in 2017. From Phoenix to Philadelphia, drivers have been credited with helping break up operations and aiding victims of human trafficking.
Drivers, riders and employees alike can play a key role in the fight to stop traffickers. Working together with our national partners, we will utilize our innovation and technology along with the scope and scale of our global community to commit to raise awareness and empower more heroes. Working together, we can help disrupt and end human trafficking.
Learn more from our partners about how to identify and report human trafficking here.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST