Moldova, an impoverished nation whose children are preyed on by sex slave traffickers, plans to use blockchain technology to eradicate child trafficking, in cooperation with United Nations officials, according to Thomson Reuters .
The U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS) recently met with officials in Chisinau to consider ways to use technology to prevent exploitation of children. Hundreds of Moldovan girls as young as 13 are sent to Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other countries to work as sex slaves.
Mihail Beregoi, the Moldova Ministry of Internal Affairs state secretary, said the country is anxious to find efficient solutions to the problem.
Earlier this year, the United States placed Moldova on its watch list of nations not addressing human trafficking sufficiently. Children in rural areas often do not have identification, which makes them susceptible to trafficking since it is easier for smugglers to take them across borders using fake documents.
Blockchain technology could provide children paperless documents based on fingerprints and facial scans that would be impossible to fabricate, according to Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, a special blockchain advisor to UNOPS.
Yamamoto said a reliable identity management system can be established based on something immutable.
It is estimated that 40 million people were taken as slaves last year, most of whom were forced into labor and marriages, anti-slavery organizations have claimed.
UNOPS has already teamed with the World Identity Network (WIN) and other U.N agencies to begin a blockchain project to fight human trafficking.
Moldova was the first nation to demonstrate an interest in the project, according to Mariana Dahan, WIN chief executive. Dahan hopes to begin the project soon.
Dahan said securing identities on the blockchain would ensure identification at all times and allow trafficking attempts to be recorded.
United Nations agencies have partnered the WIN, a universal ID advocacy group, to launch a blockchain pilot to help combat child trafficking around the world.
Announced during the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit in New York last week, the blockchain pilot stems from a collaborative effort between WIN; UNOPS, the U.N.’s operational arm to implement and carry out U.N. operations globally; and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology.
Nearly 50% of the world’s children under the age of five do not possess a birth certificate, according to U.N. statistics. So does an estimated 600 million children under the age of 14, a majority of them among the world’s poorest nations, leaving all of them “invisible” to their countries’ governments. These children go unseen by social programs or development agencies, leaving them vulnerable to child traffickers.
The three bodies are also looking for new partners to support the initiative with the launch of a “Global Challenge” to foster the “best ideas and expertise in using the blockchain technology” for the cause. Addressing privacy concerns and proper identity management are among the core burdens placed on new partners seeking to collaborate with the U.N. agencies.
In a similar effort, Microsoft is currently developing a blockchain digital ID platform to provide legal identification for over a billion people, including refugees, around the world.