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Government directs spies to the Internet

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The Government is setting up a unit of professional code crackers to track drug runners and paedophile rings on the Internet. The unit will get £20 million in Government funding, and will be staffed by encryption specialists from GCHQ, as well as new recruits from the private sector. It is expected to be called the Government Telecommunications Advisory Centre (GTAC). A government official told London newspaper Metro that major criminal organisations (especially drugs cartels) were extremely sophisticated. "They have whole departments working on codes so they can carry on business in secret," he said. "For now the encryption problem is not huge -- but it is going to grow and we need to be ready for it." In essence, GTAC is an extension of the Government's surveillance activities. In 1996 and 1997, authorised phone tapping operations resulted in 1,200 arrests and the seizure of 450 firearms and 115 tons of narcotics. The National Criminal Intelligence Service provides staff and support for the GTAC. ®

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