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New government venture aims to expose criminals in the dark web

The surveillance activities of the NSA and GCHQ are well known, and many people hoping to slip under the radar have taken to the 'dark web'. Famous for sites such as Silk Road, as well as being home to illegal content such as child pornography, the dark web may not be a safe haven for much longer.

Joint Operations Cell (JOC) is a new venture in the UK which sees the National Crime Agency (NCA) and GCHQ joining forces. Described as a "genuinely innovative development", the operation aims to home in on online criminals, with a particular focus on crimes involving child exploitation.

JOC is Prime Minister David Cameron's vision of the web personified. He famously said that the dark web would offer "nowhere for you to hide", and the joint taskforce sees GCHQ moving away from a focus on national security and terrorism. It comes almost a year after the announcement of plans to create JOC at 2014's We Protect Children Online Global Summit.

GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan, said:

The Joint Operations Cell will increase our ability to identify and stop serious criminals, as well as those involved in child sexual exploitation and abuse online. This is a challenging task as we must detect them while they attempt to hide in the mass of data. We are committed to ensuring no part of the internet, including the dark web, can be used with impunity by criminals to conduct their illegal acts.

Echoing this, Keith Bristow - Director General of the NCA - said that JOC would use "the best of our respective agencies' skills to tackle the most complex cases and the most dangerous offenders online".

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