Crackdown on dark web criminals unveiled as Amber Rudd to announce £9m drive

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Amber Rudd is to announce a £9million boost for a Government crackdown on criminals who exploit the internet underworld known as the dark web. 

The Home Secretary’s multi-million-pound cash boost will go towards efforts to tackle offenders using online space to trade in guns, drugs and child abuse images.

The dark web refers to a hidden layer of the internet that allows site operators and users to keep their activities hidden.

This anonymity has attracted criminals seeking to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies.

Speaking at the CYBERUK security conference in Manchester on Wednesday, Ms Rudd will describe the dark web as a “dark and dangerous place where anonymity emboldens people to break the law in the most horrifying of ways” and a “platform of dangerous crimes and horrific abuse”.

A “sickening shopping list of services and products are available”, the Cabinet minister will warn.

She will say the £9 million-plus funding is being provided to “enhance the UK’s specialist law enforcement response”, adding: “They will use this money to help combat the criminals who continually exploit the anonymity of the dark web.”

The details of the measures planned as part of the cash injection are not being released for operational reasons.

In addition, £5 million has been earmarked for dedicated cyber crime units so online offenders can be pursued at a regional and local level.

According to the Home Office, only 30 per cent of local police forces currently have a cyber capability that reaches the minimum standard.

The funding is part of £50 million allocated to ensure the criminal justice system is equipped to investigate and prosecute illegal activity perpetrated in or facilitated by cyberspace.

Ms Rudd will say: “[The £50 million of funding] will mean that cyber crimes are investigated thoroughly and police can support local businesses and local victims, providing the advice and care they need.

“Whilst criminals plot and hide behind their screens, their actions have real-life consequences for their victims.

“My own father was the victim of fraud and I know from personal experience the importance of supporting those who have been victimised through no fault of their own.

“Now that it’s happening online, it’s happening to even more people.”

She will emphasise that business owners, cyber security experts and individuals also have a role to play.

“In the same way that shops protect themselves from burglary with locks, alarms and security guards, I expect businesses to take equivalent precautions digitally,” Ms Rudd will say.

“The world of cyber is fast-developing and we need a fast-developing response to match. One that recognises that it is the responsibility of everyone in the UK to fight the evolving threat.”