September 7th, 2011
09:17 AM ET

Apps to end slavery?

Can a smartphone help you take a stand against slavery?

Many apps exist to help you do just that, including the Trafficking in Persons Awareness app and an app by the same name of the film it's associated with, "Call + Response."

Free2Work is an app that lets you look at major brands as you shop to check what they're doing to tackle the problem. Free2Work was created by the Not For Sale Campaign. Its goal is to use technology to mobilize activists and fight slavery.

David Batstone, the campaign's co-founder and president, talked to CNN's Richard Quest about the app and the role of technology:

"[Technology] can do a lot of things. One is when [consumers] shop, whether it's in a large department store or whether they are out at the grocery store, that they're able to take their smartphone, through Free2Work, our app, and they're able to look at the products.

And what's the story behind those products? How are they made? Where were they made? How were people treated? Were they actually free to work? You see, none of us want to wear people's tragedy. We don't want to consume their suffering where we have coffee with sugar poured in it. We want to make sure that people's lives are enhanced.

And this tool enables you to buy in such a way that you know you're enhancing the lives of the people who made those products."

Topics: Solutions

soundoff (48 Responses)


    September 7, 2011 at 11:50 am | Reply
    • weeman17

      That is a historical problem, this problem is something that is across ALL RACES!!! African AMERICANS are an important part of the culture of United States, half of my friends in Massachusetts are African American. I hate stereotyping and I hate segregation, no matter what your background is. SO TO SAY AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE THE ROOT OF AMERICAN SLAVERY IS NARROW MINDED AT BEST. THIS IS AN ISSUE OF ALL RACES!!!!!!

      September 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Robizzy

      holy santa claus sh!t... and i thought the comments i made were racist...

      September 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Ekow Tachie Ephraim

      That's is racist man. You are not even commenting on the topic!

      September 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • Betsy Ross

        truth hurts, huh?

        September 12, 2011 at 3:58 am |
    • Davethecanuck

      I'd be willing to bet that YOU are the cause of all the problems in your life.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • marc

      The article isn't about Blacks trailer trash....and back in the day when there where black slaves your family more than likely couldn't afford one due to the level of intelligence you just showed in your post, I would say your entire family tree was poor white hillbillie rats.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Reply
    • bob

      yo big head john: you should have never have Killed Cheated and stole America from it's true natives the Indians Go the Fuc# back where your sorry MURDERING ANCESSTORS came from!

      September 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Reply
      • Brooklyner

        Sure thing, ace. As soon as you follow yours back to wherever you were spawned.

        September 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
      • Betsy Ross

        pretty dumb statement really, did you proof read at all? Truth hurts, your own people sold you into slavery.

        September 12, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • Tim

      You are right and I wish the Whites would have stayed in Europe and let the Native Americans live on their lands.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply
      • Betsy Ross

        duh....dumb. Caucasian people made Ameriica a great nation. Have you ever seen caucasians living in mud huts? Plenty of blacks still do. And truth be told, you´re not totally ´free´until you can live without all the gov stamps and all sorts of éntitlements´. You want to be free, make something of yourself and quit whining about fake éntitlements´.

        September 12, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • holySam

      Dear Big John,

      when a black Rotarian in Alabama jokes "I dont have anything against niggers. They just should swim back to Africa and take one Jew under each arm" it is NOT THE SAME THING as when someone says the same words, in white KuKluxKlan clothes
      slavery is by no means restricted to black victims. (in europe they were called the "bodyowned" in german: "LeibEigene" and slavery is so widespread among all skin colors and whatever could be used or abused - to or against an identity - that il will be thought it was strange that the freedom project came only in the 21st century, sometime in future)

      what I dont fully understand, though, is where a description of that "Free2work" can be found: I never saw it in any Apple nor Android Store(s)
      I dont understand either what a "work" in a "job"place" has to do with Freedom. (is not INCOME an element of Freedom, and is not a NON-DESTROYED climate and environment an element of Freedom?)
      I would like to know - but cannot find on these pages - to which position(s) of all of that this Free2work App is related?

      so: WHERE can I DOWNLOAD the App, and where do I find detailed DESCRIPTIONS?
      thank you

      September 9, 2011 at 2:06 am | Reply
    • DanoMcRoo

      Blacks are no problem. Just give them an EBT card and a TV and they're fine.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:53 am | Reply
  2. crystal

    big john just posted the most racist comment anyone can say that is so not true like weeman17 said this is political not about races wow big john

    September 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  3. livcrew97

    Big John, sounds like a big child. The idiot probably didn't even bother to read this very short article, which is actually about today's current problem of human trafficking and not about the US's past history of slavery.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  4. blong189

    You've got to be kidding me BIG JOHN....

    September 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  5. Ekow Tachie Ephraim

    I like that we can now trace where are products came from

    September 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  6. Chris

    Sounds like a great idea for an app. I am gonna check it out. I think it is important, whenever possible, to find out who and what makes the product and under what conditions they were manufactured. If I see two similar products and I know that one is made under horrible conditions and the other is made under wholesome conditions the least I can do is buy the product that was made without human slavery or degradation. Whenver possible we should try to boycott products and companies that engage in illegal methods of production...sadly it is becoming increasingly more difficult to really know what really goes into a product we buy.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  7. Penny Simpson

    How about an app that can be used to discretely report suspected slavery (time, place, GPS location, gender, number of victims, work being done), since there is so much slavery going on around us? We can spot our suspicions, if we open our eyes, but it will take more sophisticated organizations, like rescue organizations and the police, to do the detective work and rescue the victims.

    September 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Reply
    • Lena Shamisam

      Go to for that. I'm pretty sure that they have a place to report it. Also, If you're really passionate about this, get involoved! Free The Slaves and Invisible Children (child soldiers) are both volunteer-friendly. No experience needed.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
  8. DanInEugene

    Was I the only person who went to the Not For Sale Campaign website? They are completely dedicated to fighting prostitution. Doesn't even seem like the person who wrote this article knew that. Makes me wonder what possible info their program could pull up on a company in regards to the fight against prostitution beyond how much money a company paid in donations to be on their good list. Their leader seems to be religiously inspired and his one big US project involved recommending that massage parlors in the San Francisco area be more closely regulated (info from Wikipedia). I suspect there is an interesting story here involving hidden agendas and shady for profit tactics.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  9. Arty

    This sounds like a great app, and I would use it. I can't believe we still have slavery. I was shocked when I learned through a colleague that "indentured servitude" was common, in fact, ubiquitous in the Middle East. With so many reporters in the area, I was surprised that this gets not even a mention. But apparently thousands of young girls from impoverished nations like Indonesia are sold as house servants. Their parents–or worse yet, an agency–get a little money and the girls get a lifetime of drudgery and abuse with no way out. I had to check this out with several colleagues to make sure it was true; since no news agency talks about this that I have heard. I just could not believe it at first. Everyone who I have talked to that has lived in the area confirms this grim truth. Every home that can afford the price buys a servant. I can't understand why this is not widely decried. I don't see many products manufactured in the Middle East, but the one prominent product produced there–oil–is economically important. I hope this is not the reason for so little attention.

    September 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  10. TH

    Anyone with questions about Free2Work and how it rates companies - feel free to check out the methodology, as it is posted on the web site.
    Better yet - if there is a company whose products you like, please contact that company and ask what they do to ensure good standards in their supply chain. It's a simple but powerful question.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:36 am | Reply
  11. mev

    To me the interesting thing is that most of the people in America fighting against slavery of any type anywhere, are a majority white. Blacks in America are too busy whining because some ancestor 150 years ago who they never met, who MIGHT have been a slave and complaining that this is what holds them back from success even today. Too many American blacks today are too busy whining that they are modern day slaves even thought they have access to free education, free food, govt housing, even free cells phones!!

    Meanwhile there are enslaved people in other countries (and enslaved kids and women who are trafficked as sex slaves in the US) and our blacks still think they have it worse than anyone else. Seriously, they need to get the hell over it. If slavery that they never even were a part of and that happened 150 years ago of traumatized them so much why wouldn't they be fighting to keep it from happening to other people? I know why, because they are too busy playing the victim to realize that millions of people are much worse off.

    September 8, 2011 at 1:21 am | Reply
    • rsheragonjo

      theirs some truth to that!!

      September 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  12. GC1CEO

    The thing is every group seeking to stop questionable business practices such as actual slavery/forced labor, low wages, etc forget most people are ok with it if it makes a product cheaper, at best they simply remain ignorant of where it comes from. Before anybody accuses me of supporting the practices I'm being realistic not idealistic in my statement. Stopping it at the source in the countries by groups there has greater potential, essentially the people enslaved have to free themselves, that mentality actually is starting to work in Africa where you have economic collectives selling fair price market goods instead of being enslaved to mine for warlords, rebels, etc.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:08 am | Reply
  13. Katie

    Every civilization has had slaves. Even today, Corporate America has slaves and they're called the common worker. Worker rights may have improved over time but the concept is still the same.

    Whites weren't the first to take blacks from Africa, the Spanish were. At least learn your history. But Big Man is correct, whites are always blamed and always will be. Talk about reverse racism. Not every white skinned person had ancestry ever involved with slavery. Many are from countries that did not support slavery and had never owned slaves. BUT, we're judged by the color of our skin. There will always be hatred against whites and against blacks.

    September 8, 2011 at 6:42 am | Reply
    • mike

      Humans always find away to hate anyone different. If a group are all the same color they still find ways. Look at Ireland where so called Christians kill each other over interpretations of their mythological beliefs, or here in the USA where two whites of opposite political beliefs can barely speak to each other. Humans basically suck as a species.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
      • Lena Shamisam

        I'm both Irish and Christian, and I don't believe it's mythological, and I don't want to kill anyone. Don't be ignorant. Don't stereotype. It's insulting.

        September 9, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Delfinko

      You couldnt have said it any better.

      September 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • rsheragonjo

      toally agree!!

      September 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Reply
    • Coquito

      Thats so true Katie. Christopher Colombus (Cristobal Colon) hailed from spain and brought slaves and slave owners the the "new world". many states were "founded" by the spaniards: Virginia,the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Califas, Colorado. many people forget that it was the spaniards who first colonized not the puritans who were getting away from religious persecution from england.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:43 am | Reply
  14. mike

    CNN really needs to start moderating all its blogs. The content of most of them is nothing but ignorant rants and the few intelligent comments get lost in the garbage.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:29 am | Reply
    • holySam

      Why ??? (have you ever lived in - or looked into, from inside - an antidemocratic totalism with censorship ?

      Believe me: finding out (ourselves, the readers) those - even when few - relevant and interesting comments is always worth the effort. AND its less effort than surviving in one of those antidemocratic totalism(s) with PRE(censor)Filtering ...

      September 9, 2011 at 2:15 am | Reply
  15. holySam

    (my full posting landed by mistake among the answers to that Big John, below)
    * what I dont fully understand, though, is where a description of that "Free2work" can be found: I never saw it in any Apple nor Android Store(s)
    * and
    * I dont understand either what a "work" in a "job"place" has to do with Freedom. (is not INCOME an element of Freedom, and is not a NON-DESTROYED climate and environment an element of Freedom?)
    * and
    * I would like to know – but cannot find on these pages – to which position(s) of all of that this Free2work App is related?

    so: WHERE can I DOWNLOAD the App, and where do I find detailed DESCRIPTIONS?
    thank you

    September 9, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
    • Lena Shamisam

      Slavery can have income, believe me. For a 16 hour day, an enslaved child is paid a couple of dimes to live on. Visit to have it explained.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:12 am | Reply
  16. Betsy Ross

    Does anyone else see the irony of all of this? An app to end ridiculous. Most people today are slaves to technology......look at people in public today....can´t keep their hands of their little gadgets....totally enslaved by them. Technology is no longer a tool but a master.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:38 am | Reply
  17. Abdoulaye

    Slavery is still practiced in Islamic Republic of Mauritania like it was practiced in the USA 200 years ago.

    September 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  18. akborton0316

    you all are dumb, americans i just the best sorry brah

    September 15, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
  19. DanoMcRoo

    I guess, until everybody on the planet has an EBT card an high speed internet (both rights) they're being abused.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
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