Ashton Kutcher testified for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about fighting human trafficking in modern times, according to CNN. Kutcher is the chairman and a co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. The Los Angeles company builds software to fight human trafficking.
In the testimony Feb. 15, Kutcher emphasized that slavery is a bipartisan issue and that both Democrats and Republicans can agree to fight it together.
The right to pursue happiness is a right of every U.S. citizen, Kutcher said, and furthermore, it is the responsibility of those who have those freedoms to help bring freedom to others.
In 2009 Kutcher founded Thorn with his wife Demi Moore. Although the couple has since split, the company and its mission continue.
Describing the work at Thorn as his day job, Kutcher said that part of the reason he finds this issue so important is to protect his own children. Kutcher and his wife, Mila Kunis, had a son last year in November, who they named Dimitri Portwood. They also have two-year-old Wyatt, their daughter.
The actor and activist said that being able to speak to the committee was a great honor. He described some of the work he’s done with victims of trafficking in different countries, including Russia and India, and some of the damage slavery has done to those victims.
He also said that Thorn’s technology developments have helped to identify more than 6,000 victims, of whom one-third were underage. One development, “Spotlight” is in use throughout 900 law enforcement agencies, and can lower the time spent on the investigation by as much as 60%. A second software tool, “Solis” helps investigate material from the dark web, and has reduced time to three weeks instead of three years.
Kutcher said that anti-trafficking technology needs more funding and that the public and private need to work together to prevent trafficking within public service programs, like the foster care system. Kutcher also said that it was important to address refugees, who can be particularly vulnerable to trafficking.
Fighting trafficking, according to Kutcher, can be like playing whack-a-mole, with additional sources for traffickers opening as soon as one is shut down. But by building the right tools to combat the problem, Kutcher hopes to make an impact.