Phone company

Court rejects messages obtained by phone company Honeypot from FBI Anom

Piracy. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard’s podcast and reports on the dark underbelly of the internet.

On Tuesday, a Finnish court ruled that chat messages secretly collected by the FBI from the encrypted phone company Anom could not be used as evidence against two particular suspects, according to a report from the Finnish outlet Iltalehti. Although the decision only directly affects the prosecution of two people, the decision could have a ripple effect on other prosecutions against other alleged criminals who used Anom phones.

Anom was an encrypted phone company whose owner convicted of drug trafficking provided it to the FBI in 2018. As the company grew with customers around the world, the devices surreptitiously sent a copy of every message to the FBI and the Australian police. Last June, authorities went public with the operation and made hundreds of arrests, including suspected high-volume drug traffickers. Currently, various courts around the world are handling the prosecution of these alleged criminals.

Earlier this year, Motherboard got one of Anom’s phones on the secondary market. The Anom communications app itself was hidden inside the phone’s calculator app, and also had a dummy operating system full of dummy apps that could be used to convince a casual observer that the device was a phone. ordinary.

Do you know anything else about Anom? Were you a user? Did you work for the company? Did you work on the survey? We would love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on [email protected]or email [email protected].

This specific decision concerns Finnish rapper Ville Virtanen, who allegedly planned to give 10,000 euros to a drug kingpin in Spain, and Kalle Kallonen, accused of money laundering. Virtanen’s defense argued that the Anom messages were acquired through a covert and coercive measure under Finnish law, according to the Iltalehti report. The use of this type of additional information requires that the most severe penalty for the offense in question is at least three years imprisonment. But the maximum sentence for money laundering in Finland is two years, the report adds. The district court found that the Anom messages were obtained illegally from individuals in Finland and Spain, and that the required permissions for the surveillance were not sought, it says.

The prosecutor said he would appeal the decision, the report adds.

The case bears some similarities to that of Encrochat, another encrypted phone company. Last year, French police hacked into thousands of Encrochat phones to secretly siphon users’ messages. Some defense attorneys then questioned the legality of the operation and whether the messages could be used in court. In the UK, a judge deemed the messages admissible.

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