The Power of Data for Good: Spotlight by Thorn

By Lindsey Wilcox, Marketing Manager of our Whitepages Pro Team:

Alex Algard founded Whitepages.com in his Stanford dorm room in 1997 and the Company now thrives by the guiding principle of “Data for Good.” Nearly 20 years and billions of identity links later, 120 Whitepagers across the globe are still guided by this core value, the foundation of which was laid in a time before Twitter, Facebook, and Google. To this end, the Pro team is focused on providing businesses with global identity verification solutions to help identify legitimate customers, prevent fraudulent transactions, and smooth new customer account creation across industries.

To better understand our customers and ensure we’re providing the most effective solutions, you can often find us out in the market at conferences, tradeshows, and hosted events. Throughout the year, our ECommerce Practice team heads around the country to host the Digital Identity + Commerce Tour (DICT). During our September stop in San Francisco, we were honored to have Kristin Boorse of Thorn as our keynote speaker. Thorn is a nonprofit that drives tech innovation to fight child sexual exploitation, partnering across the tech industry, government, and nonprofit sectors. The Thorn team brings together over twenty technology companies, including Snapchat, Microsoft, and Twilio, to lend their knowledge, time, and resources as part of the Thorn Technology Task Force. Thorn also invests in research collected in the field to inform programs and facilitate industry collaboration.

Spotlight, a tool developed by Thorn, is a web-based platform that assists law enforcement in identifying sex trafficking victims faster. Per Kristin, “The genesis of Spotlight started after we conducted a sex trafficking Survivor Survey in 2012, seeking to learn directly from victims how technology was used throughout their trafficking situation.  We found that seventy-five percent of underage sex trafficking victims reported they had been bought or sold online. Armed with this data, we worked with our technology partners and law enforcement to understand how these existing digital footprints could assist law enforcement in faster victim identification.  Hopeful that investigators could use technology to identify victims more quickly, we tested an early version of a potential tool among key agencies with promising results.” And thus, Spotlight was born.

Spotlight offers enforcement agencies compiled data from across jurisdictions and borders to allow for more streamlined investigations. The successes of the tool are a testament to the collaborative nature of the platform – over 3,500 officers use the tool in all 50 states.

“Spotlight is a force multiplier at every stage in the operation. This tool allows us to conduct faster, more precise investigations that will remove criminals from the street and, most importantly, recover victims.” – Federal Agent, Honolulu

In the past year, law enforcement has used Spotlight in nearly 8,000 cases, identifying an average of five kids per day, and helping officers solve cases up to 60% faster. THAT is the power of data for good.

Whitepages is proud of Thorn’s work to reduce human trafficking and assist law enforcement in identifying and disrupting child exploitation and prostitution rings globally. What’s most amazing is their continued innovation in using machine learning and big data to partner with government agencies. The sharing economy and omnipresence of the digital world in our everyday lives (see: internet of things) make it especially important that companies and agencies come together to bring diverse talents, resources, and ideas to the table to fight some of the world’s most challenging issues. We’re proud to feature forward-thinkers like Kristin and partner with companies at the forefront of these projects to bring Alex’s vision to life as we continue to move into an ever more complex and digitally-integrated society.

About Kristin Boorse
Kristin is the Senior Product Manager at Thorn. Kristin came to Thorn from 41st Parameter where she was Sr. Product Manager and developed the product strategy and roadmap for FraudNet – the leading web fraud detection software protecting the world’s premium brands against cyber fraud. Kristin has over 14 years of experience in product management, product marketing, online community development, business analysis and project management. She volunteers as a Team Captain for Team World Vision to raise awareness and funds to provide clean water to the world’s most vulnerable children in developing countries. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in Psychology from California Lutheran University.

Quick Takes
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Whitepages attended the nation’s Do Not Call Enforcement Summit with government security officials and carriers to tackle global phone spam and fraud. Update here.

Want to hear more about our vision and how we handle data? Let us know.

by Katie Krueger

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