Freeing the Modern Slaves, One Click at a Time: Theorising human trafficking, modern slavery, and technology


  • Dr Sanja Milivojevic
  • Heather Moore
  • Marie Segrave



technology, e-trafficking, impact, evidence-based knowledge


This paper analyses relations between human trafficking, modern slavery, and information communication technology. It looks at the history of the technology-trafficking nexus and flags some key advances in the counter-trafficking discourse in the last two decades. It provides an overview of how technology has been framed as both a part of the problem and part of the solution in the trafficking/slavery context and emphasises the impact of such developments on a range of actors, in particular, potential victims, NGOs, and the nation state. We suggest that the technology-slavery/trafficking connections, while often elusive, act as potent narrative and policy setters that can advance existing challenges and create new points of tension in the counter-trafficking context. We critically analyse these points of tension and destabilise some of their underpinning assumptions. In the conclusion, we highlight the need for rigorous empirical evidence, arguing that a more robust scholarly engagement with the role of technology in enabling and disrupting exploitation is essential. We also point to the importance of ensuring that technology is not a distraction from addressing the root causes of exploitation and abuse.


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Author Biographies

Dr Sanja Milivojevic

Dr Sanja Milivojevic is a Research Fellow in Criminology at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Associate Director of Border Criminologies at Oxford University. Sanja holds LLB and LLM from Belgrade University’s Law School, and PhD from Monash University, Australia. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, University of Oslo, Belgrade University, and University of Zagreb, as well as a Public Interest Law Fellow at Columbia University’s Law School in New York. Sanja publishes in English and Serbian. She is the author of Border Policing and Security Technologies (Routledge, 2019).

Heather Moore

Heather Moore is a Consultant with the Trafficking and Slavery Research Group, Monash University, Australia. She has nearly 17 years of experience in the areas of programme management, capacity building, policy, and research. She provides expert witness services in trafficking matters and is a consultant with a focus on organisational capacity building to effectively identify, remediate, and evaluate responses to human trafficking. She has published works on effective stakeholder collaboration in counter-trafficking operations, the Australian response to contemporary forms of slavery, and trafficking for domestic servitude in Australia.

Marie Segrave

Marie Segrave is an Associate Professor in Criminology at Monash University, Australia. She leads the Trafficking and Labour Exploitation research agenda via the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre, which is also home to the Border Crossing Observatory. She has undertaken extensive research on trafficking and slavery-like practices, the design and implementation of counter-trafficking efforts and the role and impact of migration regulation and border control on exploitative practices. Marie also publishes and undertakes research as a member of the Monash Gender and Family Violence team with a focus on migration regulation and family and domestic violence.




How to Cite

Milivojevic, S., Moore, H., & Segrave, M. (2020). Freeing the Modern Slaves, One Click at a Time: Theorising human trafficking, modern slavery, and technology. Anti-Trafficking Review, (14), 16–32.