DeliverFund is a nonprofit and private intelligence agency that provides data to police. What sets them apart, and makes them more dangerous to marginalized people, is that they combine counterterrorism (War on Terror), anti-drug, anti-immigrant, and anti-poverty tactics to target the sex industry. They have a group of companies that partnered to “create solutions to the modern slave trade” via their International Human Trafficking Analysis Center (iHTAC). All of them are involved in helping law enforcement track sex workers online.
Some of these companies include:
ShadowDragon, which uses the OIMonitor to visit escort sites and collect data on sex worker’s advertisements to share with law enforcement. Policing marginalized communities and profiling them by gender, race, and class would normally be frowned upon, but they used the loophole of claiming to be policing the traffickers that they believe control sex workers. Imagine data companies that sell products to law enforcement, claiming that they need to perform surveillance on immigrants, because "they’re all secretly controlled by traffickers". It doesn’t change the harm marginalised people experience in being spied on, raided, and policed.
IBM, a supporter of SESTA/FOSTA and the EARN IT Act, has recently been reporting as leaving the facial recognition business by the press. However, one should remain skeptical, since in the letter that prompted these reports, IBM claims that “IBM has sunset its general purpose facial recognition and analysis software products.” The phrase “general purpose” suggests that their more specific products may remain.
IBM has partnerships with DeliverFund and Stop the Traffik through their i2 intelligence analysis software, a form of predictive policing software. IBM’s software has been found to have racial and gender bias, and has been used to police refugees and protestors in the past. In general, institutions pushing anti-slavery or anti-trafficking campaigns are usually telling their audience that they prefer to be dishonest, and disguise the insidious purposes for which such technology is being used.
“In one case, we came up with quite a complicated chart that we eventually took to a financial institution,” Neil Giles says. The institution issued suspicious activity reports in 16 different countries, which led to multiple law enforcement investigations that significantly disrupted the sex work industry in Belgium for several months.
“Slavery is about money and nothing else, and that money does hit financial institutions at some point,” Neil Giles stated. "We are encouraging the financial world to overlay our hotspot and trend data with their transactional data to help connect human trafficking and slavery with money-laundering activity.”
One of the success stories that Neil Giles (Director of Stop the Traffik) highlights [words in bold are my emphasis.]
This is ironic because IBM and these anti-trafficking organizations have been closing sex workers' bank accounts, while DeliverFund lists using cash, and not having a bank account, as signs of trafficking.
Businesses and law enforcement have been conflating money laundering and cash usage with terrorism, human trafficking, and other criminal activity for a long time. This always results in poor and marginalized people being denied banking, business, housing, having their property and money taken, and being prosecuted.
Money laundering laws were used to push prohibition of alcohol, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and on tightening border controls. Even during Covid these “experts” are much more concerned with money laundering, than the workers having to work for survival. Neil Giles had a recent interview with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). This same organization has a seminar called “On Fighting Evil: AFC vs. Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery” where they make it very clear that the “evil” they seek to eliminate are undocumented workers, and sex workers. To them we aren’t really people who need to work, to pay bills and live, we are examples of human trafficking and horrific financial crimes. In this framework, powerful institutions and people are victims of “trafficking” and the only way to eliminate it, is to become a cashless carceral society that disenfranchised the poor and other undesirables from all parts of society. It sends a message that only a select few - the have's, the privileged - benefit from capitalism.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the A21 Campaign, Transaction Record Analysis Center, Kaseware, and Traffic Jam are just a few others that DeliverFund works with. None of these organizations work for victims of abuse, or for exploited workers - instead they work for law enforcement, the state, and big business to protect their bottom line.
LexisNexis discriminates against their female workers and pays them less, and actively promotes criminalization as the only way to deal with sex workers. LexisNexis legal newsroom highlights fearmongering around sex work, insisting that websites and countries that don't allow sex work are a cause of trafficking. It’s in the best interest of LexisNexis’ business model to sell the idea that “law and order” is anti-slavery. The A21 Campaign even has the founder Christine Caine explain in a YouTube video that sex trafficking rescue missions usually happen when a client calls them to report undocumented sex workers. They then send the authorities to raid the sex workers. The sex workers are given the “choice” to be institutionized where they are brought to psychologists who will try find things to use in a prosecution case, or they can be deported. Forcepoint (a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies) helped the Arizona Finanical Crimes Task Force (AZFCTF) to investigate money laundering aka smuggling/illegal immigration. They created the Transaction Record Analysis Center (TRAC) to cleanse the Southwest Border areas of drug users and sellers, and undocumented immigrants/refugees. Kaseware’s first client was DeliverFund. One of their posts spotlighting this partnership, they claim most human trafficking victims are in the commericial sex trade and are from Mexico or the Philipphines.
Many anti-trafficking organizations will tell you that most victims of sex trafficking are US citizens, and the data on prosecution supports this. One might wonder - if these organizations are sending police to target migrant sex workers to save “sex slaves” (as Kaseware calls them) - why is it that they aren’t really considered victims? In 2019 the total number of people who got a *Trafficking Visa was 500, despite countless businesses, police, federal agents, nonprofits, tech companies advertising themselves as working hard to save trafficking victims. The visa gives victims conditional working rights for 4 years if they help police prosecute someone. One thing to keep in mind is that whenever a anti-trafficking campaign/organization makes a list of who trafficking victims tend to be, they’re actually telling you who they’re sending the authorities after. On January 18, 2019 DHS announced that several countries would no longer be able to get H-2A and H-2B temporary work visas. One of those countries that would be banned from the temporary work visa was the Philippines. Here’s the justification for it:
“DHS and DOS are concerned about the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines. DHS and DOS also believe that these overstay and human trafficking concerns are severe enough to warrant removal from the H-2A visa program as well…The Philippines' continued inclusion creates the potential for abuse, fraud, and other harm to the integrity of the H-2A or H-2B visa programs.”
Referring to groups of people as criminals, traffickers/pimps, trafficking victims/slaves has the same result. Our country’s response is to send the police to make them disappear somewhere, eliminate their rights completely, or deport them.
Ultimately, DeliverFund caters to law enforcement and big business. It’s no accident that sex workers and migrants are being turned away from banks, gift card services, hotels, questioned at airports by border agents, profiled by taxis services and rideshare apps, and monitored and evicted by landlords. DeliverFund is involved in helping these businesses control who is allowed to exist and move about the world.
How DeliverFund addressed George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Protests
DeliverFund made a post on June 4, 2020 titled “On the Intersection of Race and Our Fight Against Human Trafficking”. Most anti-trafficking organizations do not discuss their racist history - specifically, how human trafficking narratives were used to build up border enforcement, the FBI, and police. There’s a part of me that wants to applaud their ability to make the connection from Jack Johnson, a man prosecuted twice under the Mann Act (the White Slave Traffic Act) that largely punished black men for their relationships with white women, to George Floyd, a man murdered by police for an alleged counterfeit $20 bill. Both reveal the prison industrial complex’s use of fear to oppress black people and “keep them in their place”. The reason I’m cynical is because Donald Trump pardoned Jack Johnson, meaning that even the most “law and order” individuals are now forced to reckon with the racist and sexist past of human trafficking enforcement. Their blog post essentially whitewashes history, and modern day anti-trafficking policing. Much like how racism is often discussed as a thing of the past, DeliverFund sells the idea that anti-human trafficking enforcement is no longer sexist and racist, and most importantly that they’re the “good cops”. They blame popular media for portraying victims as young white girls sold by foreigners, their mouths covered by dark hands. And yet, their entire site and social media pages use the same imagery.
DeliverFund summarizes the injustice Jack Johnson faced with this sentence:
“In 1912, Jack Johnson was prosecuted under the White Slave Traffic Act, specifically to punish him for his relationship with a white woman who would eventually become his wife.”
The fact that their retelling of Jack Johnson’s story omits that he was prosecuted for being in a relationship with a white sex worker named Belle Schreiber that same year, is very telling. It suggests that DeliverFund would have charged Jack Johnson as a “pimp”/“human trafficker” today for having a relationship with a women who happened to also be a sex worker. Moreover, anti-trafficking laws and policing of the past were largely sold as they are today - as progressive, politically neutral, and even feminist. In fact, what we now call sex trafficking used to be called “white slavery” and it was not meant to be racial at all. Rather “white” was meant to symbolize purity, and innocence in the Christian sense. It’s this kind of whitewashing of history that assumes that past creators and enforcers of these policies had horrible results because the individuals were bad or racist, rather than that these systems are inherently bad and can’t be reformed.
Anti-trafficking enforcers don't usually like to disclose their conviction numbers, especially not by race or nationality. When these numbers are put forth, you can see the racist and xenophobic nature of this kind of policing continuing to this day.
“According to a Department of Justice summation of 2,515 human trafficking investigations conducted between 2008 and 2010, of 389 confirmed incidents of trafficking, 85% were sex-trafficking cases, 83% of victims were US citizens, and 62% of confirmed sex trafficking suspects were African American (while 25% of all suspects were Hispanic or Latino).”
Brokered Subjects: Sex, Trafficking, and the Politics of Freedom by Elizabeth Bernstein Page 62
Additionally, it’s very clear from news reports that DeliverFund’s work mainly involves policing sex workers online, in the offices they took from BackPage. It’s very similar to how organizations like the Salvation Army helped to criminalize alcohol, and would take over the saloons afterwards. Ironically, DeliverFund’s logo is The Manilla, a form of African currency that was used by Europeans to buy enslaved people.
Today, organizations like DeliverFund sell the idea that (mostly) white people - with careers in the CIA, NSA, ICE, and law enforcement - are the liberators of slaves against the mostly black and brown men they target as the new “slave masters”. The bulk of PR from anti-trafficking organizations uses “slavery” rhetoric to sell survillance and policing of mostly marginalized groups. Karen E. Bravo, a Dean and Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law has stated that “State anti-’slavery’ efforts are largely ineffective because the conceptual paradigms supported by states do not challenge the role of states or existing modalities of wealth and resource allocation upon which they depend.” These institutions use the carceral system to keep the unequal hierarchical order that benefits them in place. They need the carceral system to avoid addressing wealth, resource, and legal inequalities, and which enables them to continue seeing themselves as "the hero of the story".