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Spanish lawyers claim police hacking of #EncroChat cryptophones breaches human rights law

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A police operation to crack the EncroChat encrypted phone network which led to thousands of arrests worldwide is a judicial and political scandal, Spanish lawyers have claimed.

Guillermo Rocafort, speaking at a conference on EncroChat organised by the Madrid Bar Association, said a French Police operation to hack the encrypted phone network was a fishing exercise and in breach of European Law.

“The European Union is based on a rule of law that guarantees the fundamental right of communication secrecy, criminal proceedings cannot be prospective, or fishing [exercises],” he said.

French and Dutch police cooperated in a hacking operation against the EncroChat network, with the support of Europol and Eurojust, in 2020, which has led to arrests of organised crime groups and drugs sellers around the world, including the UK.

Rocafort told the conference of “the legal problems of the Encrochat hack”, organised by the Banking Law Section of the Madrid Bar Association (ICAM), that the operation to break the encrypted phone network was at odds with European law.

He said the EncroChat operation was akin to police obtaining bulk messages from encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp or Telegram, or hacking into a Spanish phone operator.

“It’s as if you’re hacking, for example, the [Spanish phone operator] Movistar system, the WhatsApp system, the Telegram system,” said Rocafort.

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