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  • Writer's pictureThe DigitalBank Vault

The #Encrochat Hack is "Massive Surveillance" contrary to any EU rules on privacy & data protection



Britain’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal is set to deliver a final ruling later this year in response to various challenges over the legality of the hack, which could mean dozens of EncroChat convictions, like that of Sinclair and Fontaine, could be quashed.

A Belgium-based NGO, Fair Trials, has called for a moratorium on EncroChat prosecutions and wants a European parliamentary inquiry into the use of Pegasus, the Israeli-made spyware, to be extended to include EncroChat.

Laure Baudrihaye-Gérard, legal director (Europe) of Fair Trials, said the EncroChat hack was a massive fishing expedition by the French police and she told The Epoch Times: “This was just a massive trawl. Mass police surveillance which was contrary to any form of EU rules on privacy and data protection.”

Some time in March 2020 French police, using malware in the form of a software update, managed to hack into EncroChat’s network which was hosted on a server in the town of Roubaix in northern France, and infiltrated tens of thousands of encrypted messages between individuals who used EncroChat phones.

In June 2020 EncroChat cottoned on to the fact its server had been compromised and sent a message to all users warning them to stop using their phones and dispose of them immediately.


But French police were already sharing the information they had harvested with law enforcement agencies across Europe via Europol.

National security journalist Duncan Campbell told a Fair Trials webinar in March 2021 the British police could have used the data simply as intelligence, like they would have done for phone tapping evidence, but they clearly felt like “Christmas had come early” and decided to get around the Investigatory Powers Act so they could use it in prosecutions.

Britain’s National Crime Agency took the data it had been given by Europol and immediately launched Operation Venetic, passing information to local forces which swooped on suspects all over the country.

Computer Weekly reported that Campbell gave evidence as an expert witness at the trial of Fontaine and Sinclair and said: “None of us in the field have ever seen a case where there is no possibility of checking original data. And that is creating a problem for everyone. You have the real-world data but also have data that has emerged from behind a wall of complete secrecy. The situation is unprecedented.”

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