The UK Creates New Dark Net Task Force

2 minute read

Posted by: Benjamin Vitáris </a></span>

November 10, 2015

With the fear of the dark web expanding, the United Kingdom’s main intelligence agency, the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) and the country’s top law enforcement apparatus, the National Crime Agency (NCA), have formed a brand new task force to battle dark net criminals. An NCA press release that has been published on Friday goes by:

“An NCA and GCHQ co-located Joint Operations Cell (JOC) opens officially today. The unit brings together officers from the two agencies to focus initially on tackling online child sexual exploitation.”

The unit has been created on Friday, however, the task force has been in the “workshop” since a year. At the end of 2014, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron announced the plan for the unit’s formation at the We Protect Children Online Global Summit. Back there, his official statement went by:

“The so-called ‘dark-net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear: we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending, there will be nowhere for you to hide.”

The official priority for the JOC will be to hunt down dark net porn sites and paedophiles, however, according to GCHQ Director, Robert Hannigan, the task force will focus on other (not child porn related) infamous dark web criminals. He precisely said this:

“The Joint Operations Cell will increase our ability to identify and stop serious criminals.”

The creation of the brand new task force will probably shatter the current image of the GCHQ since the agency has been known for hunting down only criminals or terrorists who are dangers to national security. There has been a case where a part of the agency (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG) went undercover to catch a teenage Anonymous hacktivists. The JTRIG also well as DDOS-ed the hacker group’s chatrooms.

This is not the first time, however, when the NCA and the GCHQ are working together. Their cooperation has started from 2013 when the NCA was created from the closed down Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Regardless of the two agency’s history together, this will be the closest cooperative operation of the two law enforcement institutes. NCA Director, General Keith Bristow stated this in the Friday press release:

“The explosion in online communication channels has brought huge benefits for society. It has also significantly expanded the means by which criminals can share information, plan crimes including the sexual exploitation of children, and target victims. The JOC is a genuinely innovative development, using the best of our respective agencies’ skills to tackle the most complex cases and the most dangerous offenders online.”

Updated: 2015-11-10