EncroChat was a European communication network and service provider which offered its users a guaranteed end to end high-level encrypted handsets though which all data was routed through a central server in Europe. The Encro software encrypted all calls and messages, and also offered wipe facilities on the phone itself and remotely.
EncroChat made it relatively straightforward to acquire a ‘military grade’ encrypted phone and was designed to provide a user with complete privacy. There are obvious attractions to owning such a phone if you are a high profile person of course if your use of the phone would point to some criminal activity on your part. It was therefore inevitable that so-called Organised Crime Gangs would be attracted to using such phones. For this reason, police forces across the world were interested in hacking into the service. This was achieved in early 2020, and in April 2020 the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police Force began a joint operation through which they obtained millions of messages and images which have led to many arrests and the seizure of huge amounts of drugs weapons and cash.
Even though EnroChat had clearly realised at some point there were was a possibility of the service being hacked, hence it shut done in June 2020, it is clear that for many months before they realised, agencies had been listening to much of the communications traffic on the EncroChat network for months.
As technology moves on, and the way in which evidence is obtained becomes more complex, it is up to the courts to decide on how, if at all, evidence obtained in this way can be used against a defendant. We are currently waiting on several cases where this question has arisen as part of the trials in, for example, big drug conspiracy allegations, and as the evidence unfolds in these trials it will become more apparent how and where this evidence was obtained. These issues are relevant as to how then such evidence may be used in a trial in the UK.
Once these rulings take place, it will still be a matter for the police to prove who was sending the messages and or using the phone, and this has to be considered too as we work our way through often thousands of pages of evidence.
If you used EncroChat, or are charged with offences where the evidence against you includes EncroChat evidence please contact our expert team for help.