Ashton Kutcher
Before presenting the first award of the night, "The Ranch" star Ashton Kutcher walked the red carpet in Dolce & Gabbana. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to act on a social or political issue they’re passionate about. Matt Damon wants clean water for all, Shailene Woodley was arrested protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, and Ashton Kutcher is the co-founder of a tech company fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

On Wednesday, Kutcher testified before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee along with the CEO and President of the organization Human Rights First, Elisa Massimino, to ask the United States Government for help fighting trafficking and sexual exploitation.

In Wednesday’s hearing Kutcher discussed the wide use of the dark web by traffickers, and the difficulties law enforcement officials face in navigating the expanse of content. Kutcher’s company Thorn developed software to combat this challenge. The software makes tracking down traffickers easier and faster for law enforcement, which can cut down on the amount of time it takes to find victims. The software, called Spotlight, is now used across all 50 states by more than 4,000 law enforcement officers, according to Thorn’s website.

Spotlight evolved from surveys completed by victims of trafficking that showed 63 percent of underage victims were bought or sold online at some point. Using this data the company worked with law enforcement to understand how such digital footprints could lead to the discovery of victims and their traffickers. From there the software developed further to better analyze and track data that can lead to building strong cases against traffickers and finding the victims.

Kutcher elaborate on the software during the hearing, “It’s a tool that can be used by law enforcement to prioritize their caseload. It’s a neuralnet, it gets smarter over time, it gets better and it gets more efficient as people use it. And it’s working.” He also noted that Spotlight is reducing investigation times by 60 percent.

The exact details of how the software works have been protected by Thorn, in the hearing Kutcher was careful to not go in depth in the interest of making it harder for traffickers to potentially evade the software.

“Technology can be used to enable slavery but it can also be used to disable slavery, and that’s what we’re doing,” Kutcher said to wrap up his comments.

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